Patriots: The Lamest Dynasty in Sports?

Yes, according to Robert Weintraub’s Slate piece, “The Lamest Dynasty in Sports – The Patriots win. Again.

The metronomic, death-by-a-thousand-cuts offense. Coach Bill “Genius” Belichick’s ratty sweatshirt. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi’s 7-Eleven clerk bangs. That ridiculous mascot. The blah uniforms. The incessant “we’re the ultimate team in the ultimate team game” platitudes. Snore. Let’s face it—more people will remember this Super Bowl for Terrell Owens’ amazing performance after getting screws in his ankle than for Deion Branch’s 11-catch MVP performance. Yes, the Patriots are a great team and their fans will obviously trade compelling play for victory after victory. But I think I speak for the rest of us when I say: Bring back the Jimmy-Troy-Emmitt-Irvin-Deion-Jerry Cowboys.

True but unfair. Even Troy Aikman, one of the Fox broadcasters for yesterday’s game, acknowledged that the Pats’ three championships in four years was more impressive than the Cowboys’ because of the salary cap and inability to keep teams together in this era. That’s hard to dispute, really.

The 1990s Cowboys, 1980s 49ers, 1970s Steelers and Cowboys, and 1960s Packers were great teams with all-star rosters. The 2000s Patriots are not. Until the mid-1990s, when true free agency kicked in along with a salary cap, teams who landed great players were able to keep them around their entire careers. The Steelers team that won their first Super Bowl in January 1975 was essentially the same team that won their fourth in January 1980. Absent some tremendous rules changes, that’ll never happen again.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bryan says:

    Sorry, but I’m calling B.S. on the salary cap issue.

    You have to consider where the Pats *were* when the salary cap came into being, and where they’ve been since. They went out and signed Corey freakin’ Dillon in the off-season, and managed to keep Ty Law in the secondary and Tom Brady, etc.

    Aikman-Irvin-Smith was the same deal. While we like to think Jones spent lots of money to get his team, he actually got most of them by shrewd bargaining and good drafting (Emmitt was what? 23rd in the draft). Jones kept his team by signing them to big money contracts, but that was AFTER they had won the super bowls.

    So that argument doesn’t make it. We’ll see what the Pats do in the coming seasons as their “team” members realize that rings don’t finance the bling-bling unless they go elsewhere for a big contract.

  2. BigFire says:

    Re: bryan

    Correy Dillon took a pay-cut to be with a winner. He’s got the ring to prove it. Sometimes you must make personal sacrifice to win the championship.

    Jerry Jones basically hit the Herschel Walker lottery when he suckered the Vikings into giving Cowboys so many draft pick.

  3. James Joyner says:


    Certainly, Jones and Johnson drafted well. But their dynasty started to fade with the cap, as role players and high priced backups had to be sacrificed to the cap. Of course, Jones firing Johnson so he’d get all the credit didn’t help matters…

  4. bryan says:


    Corey Dillon left Cincinnati like any self-respecting player would have. NO one else was bidding, IIRC. We’ll see how much of a pay cut he’ll get when he’s back on the market.

    And the point still stands that the cowboys got where they were by draft choices and trades, not by signing the big free agents (with the exceptions of Charles Haley and Deion Sanders). It will take some time to see whether the Patriots have similar fall off.

    And no one has brought up that the Eagles are also a mini-dynasty, having made it to the NFC championship for three years and now the Super Bowl.

    Clearly, the salary cap isn’t hurting everyone equally.

  5. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘Bring back the Jimmy-Troy-Emmitt-Irvin-Deion-Jerry Cowboys.’

    The Pats would destroy them, they’re all retired now. Likewise the 49ers and the Steelers. The Pats would destroy the od Packers. Bart Starr’s got to about 65 now. Oh wait, that’s not what he means?

    ‘We’ll see what the Pats do in the coming seasons as their “team” members realize that rings don’t finance the bling-bling unless they go elsewhere for a big contract.’

    Maybe they’ll go play with Damien Woody in Detroit and Lawyer Milloy in Buffalo. Well, we’ll see.