On Sunday, the New England Patriots will play in their eighth Super Bowl since 2001. They have won five of those previous seven appearances, and in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, the team has only missed out on the postseason twice. But a legendary NFL coach does not see the Patriots’ dynasty as the most impressive in NFL history. No, believe it or not, it’s the Cleveland Browns’ dominance in the 1950s that has Tony Dungy calling it the greatest football dynasty of all time.
Dungy, when speaking to the media on Tuesday at Minnesota’s Mall of America, was asked his opinion on the Patriots’ dynasty’s place in NFL history. And according to MassLive’s Kevin Duffy, while New England has the “longevity” edge (“[T]o stay from 2001 to 2017, to maintain the excellence for 17 years, it’s pretty amazing,” said Dungy), Dungy concluded that, “Would you say it’s better than the Browns in the 50s? Probably not.”
From 1946 through 1955, the Browns won seven championships, losing only 17 games in the span. Though, as Duffy points out, the Browns were part of the All-American Football Conference until 1950, when they then joined the NFL (as one of 13 teams), their winning ways continued, leading them to the championship game seven of the eight years between 1950 and 1957, with three additional wins. All those successes were under the tutelage of head coach Paul Brown and led by quarterback Otto Graham—a situation not so dissimilar to the one the Patriots have been in with Brady and Belichick.
Though comparing the two eras is difficult to do, considering the numerous changes that have been made to the way the game is played as well as to health and safety rules, Dungy certainly isn’t wrong to include the Browns of old among the top dynasties in football history. And though the Browns’ era of dominance took place in a time that many of us were not alive to see, it does provide a reminder that Cleveland was once the sport’s biggest force, well before the Patriots even existed as a franchise.