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Thread: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

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    The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History




    The 100 Greatest Teams in NFL History


    This is a project I started about 7 years ago. I never finished it because I reached a point where I was really unhappy with what I came up with. I put it away and chipped away at the list throughout the years, making changes based on what I've learned about these historic teams, working to come up with a method to weigh and measure these teams from vastly different eras against each other more accurately. I've spent a little more time on this over the past couple of months and I finally got a list that I'm happy with, so here we go...

    The NFL is going to play it's 98th season this year. I'm going to try my best to rank the top 100 teams of all 97 years of NFL history based on single season performance. The criteria for these rankings are as follows, listed in order of priority:


    1. Overall single season performance/accomplishment of the whole team
    2. Quality of competition/strength of schedule
    3. Win percentage
    4. Level of dominance
    5. Team statistics(points/yards per game, points/yards allowed per game)
    6. Influence on the sport
    7. Overall talent level


    Note that overall talent level on a team is the least considered criteria because you can't really compare the talent of a team from modern times against that of teams from the early days of the league. This countdown is not at all about who would win a hypothetical matchup between these teams. For example the 1989 49ers may have been one of the most loaded teams ever as far as talent on the field, they would have easily smoked any of the great teams from the 20's, 30's, 40's, and 50's but for this countdown I'm focusing more on how that talent performed within the context of the single season in which they played. The context of the era in which these teams played is weighed very heavily when ranking these teams. As a measure to help judge and compare these great teams with each other I split the 97 years of NFL history up into 8 different eras, each era had it's strengths and weaknesses that are considered when making these final rankings, those 8 eras are as follows:

    The Bronze Era(1920-1932)
    The Silver Era(1933-1949)
    The Golden Era(1950-1959)
    The NFL vs AFL Era(1960-1969)
    The Post-Merger Era(1970-1977)
    The Platinum Era(1978-1992)
    The Free Agency/Salary Cap Era(1993-2009)
    The PG Era(2010-2016)


    This is mostly just to celebrate the history of the game, all 97 years of it, not just the Super Bowl era. At the end of the day this is the matter of one man's opinion, anyone reading is more than welcome to drop any knowledge or argue about the rankings if they feel the need.
    Last edited by ShinobiMusashi; 08-29-2017 at 12:39 PM.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    Honorable Mentions



    The following teams fell short of the top 100 but still deserve a mention:



    #114
    Spoiler:




    1921 Chicago Staleys

    The Staleys were NFL Champions in 1921 but they did it through some controversial tactics. The 1921 season came down to the Staleys and Buffalo All Americans at the end of the year. The All Americans were in first place and had defeated Chicago once. The Staleys and All Americans agreed to meet in a rematch on December 4th under the agreement that the game would be an exhibition and wouldn't count in the official NFL standings. The Staleys won the game and for some reason the terms of their agreement were never upheld, the NFL counted it in the official league standings. The Staleys then scheduled 2 more games and won them to pull their record to 9-1-1, which should have been tied with the Buffalo All Americans who were at 9-1-2. The NFL awarded Chicago the 1921 NFL Title due to a technicality which declared that if two teams played each other twice the latest game would be the one that mattered the most. This went down as "The Staley Swindle" in NFL lore. The rules and format of the NFL's first 6 seasons was a big mess, in all 4 of the first 6 NFL Champions' claim of the title is disputed in some way.



    #113
    Spoiler:




    1921 Buffalo All Americans

    The Buffalo All Americans were one of the best teams in the NFL for the earliest years. Back in 1920 tie games were not counted in the standings. If they were counted you would have to consider Buffalo as co-Champions for the 1920 season as their win percentage would have been tied with the actual NFL Champions that season, the Akron Pros. In 1921 they were head and shoulders above the rest of the league but were screwed out of the NFL title by the "Staley Swindle", a situation where a game that was agreed upon to be an exhibition was for some reason counted in the official league standings, a December 4th loss to the Chicago Staleys that eventually cost them the 1921 NFL Championship title.



    #112
    Spoiler:




    1919 Canton Bulldogs

    Jim Thorpe is one of my favorite figures from NFL lore. He was a man among boys, the Michael Jordan of his time, one of the greatest athletes of American sports history. By the time the NFL came around in 1920 Thorpe was already past his prime. Other than a short 6-7 second clip of Thorpe kicking a football there is no video footage of Thorpe playing, all that is left is the legacy, the stories of him that have been passed down through the decades pretty much describe him as a real life version of Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl when he dominated the Ohio League(the predecessor to the NFL) from 1915 to 1919. Thorpe gave pro football a huge rub when he chose the sport over baseball and track & field as his true love, signing a pro contract with the Canton Bulldogs for $250 a game in 1915. Thorpe reunited with Carlisle college team mate Pete Calac in 1916 as the Bulldogs dominated the Ohio League, going 9-0-1 to win the Pro Football Championship. The Bulldogs repeated as Ohio League Champions in 1917 with a 9-1 record. Thorpe's Canton Bulldogs were at their finest in 1919 as Thorpe and Pete Calac were joined by another Native American football legend, Joe Guyon.

    The triple threat of Guyon, Calac, and Thorpe in the backfield were unstoppable in 1919, leading the Bulldogs to a 9-0-1 record and a third Ohio League Championship in 4 years. The Jim Thorpe Canton Bulldogs are one of those teams that defined what pro football was in it's infancy. They didn't make the top 100 because they technically aren't an officially recognized NFL team, as wild and disorganized as the NFL was in the 1920's the Ohio League in the late 1910's was even more ruffian, players often switched from team to team in the middle of a season, teams would even use college football players that were still enrolled in school.



    #111
    Spoiler:




    1920 Akron Pros

    The Akron Pros are the first officially recognized NFL Champions. Before it was the NFL it was the APFL(American Professional Football Association, they changed the name to NFL in 1922). The NFL in the 1920's was a disorganized mess, with teams playing schedules that included games against teams that weren't even official members of the league(such as the Wheeling Stogies, whom the Akron Pros defeated 43-0 in their first game of the 1920 season). There were no playoffs or Championship games, instead at the end of the year the league office awarded the Championship to the team with the best record. The Akron Pros dominated in 1920, only allowing 7 points all year as they finished with a 8-0-3. The Pro's were led by one of the first black players in pro football history in quarterback Fritz Pollard, who was frequently targeted by the white players on opposing teams trying to knock him out of games with injuries.

    Even though the Akron Pro's 10 shutout victories and undefeated record is impressive their claim as Champions for the 1920 season is actually somewhat disputed since the league treated tie games like they never happened. The Buffalo All Americans actually finished with the same win percentage as Akron when you factor in the tie games, both teams finished with a win percentage of .864. Even though the APFL awarded the 1920 title to Akron that year it was eventually forgotten about and left open as "disputed" until the 1970's when the NFL made it official.



    #110
    Spoiler:




    1925 Chicago Cardinals

    Even though the Cardinals are officially recognized as NFL Champions for the 1925 season the title is surrounded in controversy. The 1925 season came down to two very strong teams, the Cardinals of Chicago and the Pottsville Maroons. The whole season came down to a game on December 6th 1925 when the 9-1-1 Chicago Cardinals and the 8-2 Pottsville Maroons clashed to determine who would take 1st place in the league. The Maroons defeated the Cardinals 21-7 to take first place. The Maroons were suspended from the NFL shortly after the game for breaking the league rules and playing an exhibition game in another NFL team's territory. After the Maroons were suspended by the league the Chicago Cardinals cunningly scheduled 2 more games against conspicuous opponents to take advantage of the situation and make a move for the 1925 NFL Championship title. The Cardinals arranged their final game against the Milwaukee Badgers and fixed the game by filling the Badgers with high school football players, destroying them 58-0 to move their record to 11-2-1, just enough to overtake the Pottsville Maroons to claim the NFL Championship.

    The NFL found out about the high school players on the Badgers team and punished the Cardinals, the games were supposed to be scratched from the records with a $1,000 dollar fine for the club. For some reason they never followed through on their punishments, they just kind of forgot about it all. The Cardinals never paid their fine and the games were still kept on the records. The Cardinals went down in the history books as the NFL Champs for 1925. There are those who say that this cursed the franchise as they've moved to 3 different cities and won only 1 other Championship in their century of existence(they are the oldest team in the NFL).



    #109
    Spoiler:




    1925 Pottsville Maroons

    Not only were the Pottsville Maroons the best team in the NFL in 1925 but they were one of the best teams in the NFL in the entire first decade of NFL history. The team's story is told in an excellent book called "Breaker Boys: The NFL's Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship". The Maroons were a tight nit group of players that lived close to each other and practiced together more than what was usual for the scruffy motley crue teams in the NFL in the early 20's. The result was a dominant run in the Maroons first year in the NFL in 1925, outscoring their first 7 opponents by a combined score of 162-6. Pottsville took first place in the NFL after defeating the Chicago Cardinals at Wrigley Field at the end of the season.

    "The Pottsville Maroons were the most ferocious and most respected players I have ever faced. You know, I always believed the Maroons won the NFL championship in 1925 ... but were robbed of the honor."

    -Red Grange, 1956
    The controversy that screwed the Pottsville Maroons out of their legacy all started before the start of the 1925 season when the Frankfort Yellow Jackets scheduled a game between the Notre Dame All Stars against whoever was the best eastern team in the NFL. Assuming that they would win the title that year the Yellow Jackets scheduled the game for their home field in Philadelphia. As the season unfolded the Yellow Jackets fell behind the Maroons in the standings and lost their chance to play the Notre Dame All Stars. The Pottsville Maroons played the Notre Dame All Stars and defeated them at Shibe Park in Philly, a huge victory for the NFL which was nowhere near as popular as college football at the time. Angry and jealous about losing their spot in the game(and perhaps still bitter about their 49-0 loss to Pottsville that November) The Yellow Jackets complained to the league about the game being played in their territory, a clear violation of NFL policy at the time. The NFL warned Pottsville not to play the game but they went through with it anyway, resulting in the NFL suspending them for the final weeks of the season. The Cardinals scheduled and won two squash matches to take the first place spot and the NFL Championship for 1925.



    #108
    Spoiler:




    1966 Kansas City Chiefs

    Even though the name of this countdown is the 100 Greatest Teams in NFL history, you are going to find a few AFL teams in the top 100. When the two leagues merged in 1970 all 10 years of AFL history officially became a part of NFL history. When you open up an NFL Record and Fact book you are going to find AFL standings, stats, and records among all the NFL historic information. There's no question that the NFL today in 2017 would not be what it is without the AFL merger. The bedrock team of the AFL was the Kansas City Chiefs, owned by the man that founded the league; Lamar Hunt. The Chiefs dominated the AFL in the 1966 season, going 11-2-1, scoring 448 points(second most ever up to that point in AFL history). The Chiefs scored 40 points or more in 4 games in 1966, including a 56-10 thrashing of the lowly Denver Broncos.

    Len Dawson threw 26 touchdown passes vs only 10 interceptions and wide receiver Otis Taylor racked up 1,297 receiving yards(averaging 22.4 yards per catch). The Chiefs smashed the back to back defending AFL Champion Buffalo Bills in Buffalo 31-7 to capture the AFL title and earn the right to represent the league against the NFL in the first ever AFL vs NFL World Championship of Pro Football(later known as Super Bowl I). The Chiefs fell short of the Pro Football title when they were outclassed by the NFL's Green Bay Packers 35-10.



    #107
    Spoiler:




    1967 Oakland Raiders

    In the 10 years that the league existed nobody really ever dominated the AFL the way the Oakland Raiders did in 1967. The Raiders scored over 40 points in 5 games, including a 51-0 win over Denver and a 51-10 win over San Diego en route to a 13-1 record. Their only loss in 67 came at the hands of Joe Namath's New York Jets(Namath threw for over 4,000 passing yards that season, the most any quarterback in pro football history had ever thrown for up to that point). Oakland avenged their loss to Namath's Jets later in the season with a 38-29 victory that knocked the Jets out of contention for the AFL East Division title.

    Raiders quarterback Daryl Lamonica had his career defining season passing for 3,228 yards and 30 touchdown passes primarily to Fred Biletniko and Billy Cannon. The core of the 67 Raiders was its front defensive four. Ben Davidson(pictured), Dan Birdwell, Tom Keating, and Ike Lassiter terrorized the AFL's quarterbacks in 1967, leading the league with 67 sacks for 669 yards lost(an all time NFL record). The Raiders defense led all AFL/NFL teams in sacks for 3 strait years from 1966 to 1968(also an all time NFL record). The four men were a group of characters that were tough, gritty, and really started that outlaw image for the Raiders franchise. Oakland moved their record to 14-1 after they destroyed the Houston Oilers 40-7 in the AFL Championship Game. John Rauch's Raiders crumbled under the pressure of Super Bowl II as Vince Lombardi's Packers outclassed and outcoached them to a 33-14 victory for the undisputed claim to pro football's World Championship of 1967. I believe the AFL Championship teams of 1966 and 1967 deserve an honorable mention because they won the league title back when the AFL was it's own separate universe, by 66 and 67 the league was much stronger and loaded with some great talent, even though they weren't the best team in pro football wining the AFL Championship still meant something.



    #106
    Spoiler:




    1969 Minnesota Vikings

    The Minnesota Vikings lost 4 Super Bowls over an 8 year span from 1969 to 1976, out of those four teams that fell short in the big game the 1969 team was by far their strongest unit. The Vikings dominated the NFL in it's final year before the merger with the AFL, running the table to finish with an 12-2 record, allowing only an average of 9.3 points per game, a total of only 133 points all year(the fewest allowed by any defense of that era up to that point, the fewest allowed in the league since the 1946 season, only 1 other team allowed fewer points since then; the 1977 "Gritz Blitz" Falcons with 129). Led by a fiery quarterback named Joe Kapp and the Purple People Eaters front four the Vikings put up over 50 points in 3 games, allowing 7 points or less in 6 games(including 2 shut outs).

    The Vikings took down the Fearsome Foursome LA Rams in the Conference Championship before defeating the Cleveland Browns to win the 1969 NFL Title. The Vikings were destroyed by the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV but I think their NFL Championship in 1969 deserves an honorable mention, they dominated the stronger league in a way that few other teams ever have.



    #105
    Spoiler:




    1968 Baltimore Colts

    After the Baltimore Colts destroyed the Cleveland Browns in the 1968 NFL Championship Game, many had penned them as the all time greatest team in NFL history. Then they got Conor Mcgregor'd by Joe Namath and the New York Jets in Super Bowl III in the biggest upset in sports history. After the Colts fell short in the 1964, 1965, and 1967 seasons they saddled up the horses and went all in for the 1968 season. The Colts put up over 40 points in 3 different games and held teams to an average of 10.3 points per game, including 6 games where they only allowed a touchdown or less. The defense anchored the team while the offense was in a year of transition as Earl Morrall took over for the injured Johnny Unitas and running back Tom Matte and offensive lineman Bill Curry and Bob Vogel carried the load for the offense in the absence of Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, and Raymond Berry(who all retired after the 1967 season). The Colts only loss in 1968 was to the Cleveland Browns in week 6. Baltimore went on a rampage after losing to Cleveland, winning each of their final 8 games by only allowing a total combined 56 points(including 3 shut outs), marching their way to a 13-1 record.

    Everybody was ready to crown the Colts after they defeated the Rams in the Divisional Playoff game before destroying the Browns in the NFL Championship Game, avenging their only loss of the season with a 34-0 blowout in Cleveland, getting revenge for their embarrassing 27-0 upset loss to the Browns in the 1964 NFL Championship in that same building just 4 years earlier. The Colts were 18 point favorites to defeat the Jets in Super Bowl III, some odds makers had them as much as 22 point favorites. The Colts fell short of glory when the Jets followed through on Joe Namath's guaranteed victory, taking down the mighty Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III. Just like the 69 Vikings, 67 Raiders, and 66 Chiefs I feel like even though the 68 Colts didn't win the undisputed World Championship of Pro Football, the fact that they still won their league Championship still holds enough weight for an honorable mention.



    #101(tie)
    Spoiler:




    1946-1949 Cleveland Browns

    The Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1949 were one of the best pro football teams of all time. They were freakishly ahead of their time due to head coach Paul Brown, who was probably a good 20 years ahead of his time, plus quarterback Otto Graham and power running back Marion Motley two of the all time greats. In 1946 a brand new pro football league sprouted up called the All American Football Conference, or AAFC. The Browns played their first season in Cleveland in 1946 in the AAFC, the first year after the NFL's Cleveland Rams left the city high and dry for Los Angeles just 27 days after winning the 1945 NFL Championship. The Cleveland Browns were an instant hit in the AAFC, drawing huge crowds as they completely dominated the league. In all from 1946 to 1949 the Browns went a combined 49-4-5, winning all 4 AAFC Titles, going undefeated at 14-0 in their 1948 campaign. I believe that the Cleveland Browns were so good that they could have defeated the NFL Champions from 1946 to 1949. The AAFC folded after the 1949 season and the Browns came into the NFL to run the table in 1950, destroying the 1949 NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles in the opening game of the season, eventually winning the NFL Title in their inaugural season in the league(would go on to win it again 1954, 1955, and 1957). Even though I believe the Browns had a legit claim as the best team in Pro Football from 1946 to 1949 you won't find any of those teams on this list because the AAFC was not an official part of NFL history, despite the fact that the NFL absorbed the Browns, Colts, and the Browns biggest rival the San Francisco 49ers from the league, the rest of AAFC was disregarded by the league. You won't find any AAFC standings, records, or stats in the official NFL records the way you will with the AFL. The quality of competition in the AAFC was also far lower than what was in the NFL during those 4 seasons as most of the teams were failures both on the field and at the box office.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    #100
    Spoiler:




    1924 Cleveland Bulldogs

    For some reason the Cleveland Bulldogs lineage with the storied Canton Bulldogs is not officially recognized by the NFL. The Canton Bulldogs were the best pro team of the pre-NFL days of the sport. The team was founded in Canton Ohio in the Ohio League(the premier pro football league at the time, direct predecessor to the NFL) in 1905. The Canton Bulldogs rivalry with the Massillon Tigers was the original rivalry of pro football history. The two teams battled in a series of games to determine the 1906 Ohio League Champion, won by Massillon. Gambling scandals and high player salaries eventually brought down both of the Ohio League powerhouses. The popularity of the young sport as a whole sagged from 1907 until America's greatest athlete at the time, 2 time Gold Medal winner at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic games, Jim Thorpe signed to play with the Pine Village Pros in Indiana. Jack Cusack rebuilt a new Canton Bulldogs in 1912, with their old rivals the Massillon Tigers returning to the Ohio League in 1913 to revive the original rivalry that pro football was built on. Canton took the upper hand on Massillon by managing to sign Jim Thorpe to play for the Bulldogs for $250 a game. With Thorpe and his Carlisle college(all-Native American school) team mates Pete Calac and Joe Guyon the Bulldogs dominated the Ohio League, winning 3 Pro Championship Titles over a 4 year span from 1916 to 1919.








    The Canton Bulldogs dynasty faded after the birth of the NFL in 1920, with Thorpe leaving the team after the inaugural NFL season. New owner Ralph Hay rebuilt the Bulldogs by stealing away Guy Chamberlin from the Chicago Bears. Chamberlin's Bulldogs were the first real powerhouse to dominate the NFL in 1922 and 1923, going undefeated in back-to-back seasons to become the first team to win an undisputed claim as Champions of the new NFL. While the Bulldogs were a powerhouse on the field they were a failure at the box office, playing at a small venue at Lakeside Park in Canton the Bulldogs routinely drew small crowds that failed to turn a profit. In 1924 Ralph Hay sold the rights to the franchise, the players, and uniforms of the defending NFL Champion Canton Bulldogs to Sammy Deutsch, who moved it all to Cleveland. Guy Chamberlain and many of the same squad from Canton picked up in Cleveland in 1924 right where they left off in Canton, extending their unbeaten streak to 30 consecutive games before they finally tasted defeat at the hands of the Frankfort Yellow Jackets in their 8th game of the 1924 season. The Bulldogs finished out the season by winning their final 2 official games to finish with a 7-1-1 record.








    Cleveland averaged 24.5 points per game in 1924, unheard of for that era, the most of any NFL Champion team until the late 40's. The Bulldogs scored more than 50 points on two occasions, a 59-0 route of the Rochester Jeffersons and a 53-10 blowout of the Milwaukee Badgers in the final game of the season. The Cleveland Bulldogs aren't officially recognized for it but they are 1 of only 3 squads(29-31 Packers and 65-67 Packers) in almost 100 years of history to have ever won a 3rd consecutive NFL Championship Title. The '24 Bulldogs find themselves at the bottom of the list because of a few different reasons, the first being that they played a really weak schedule. The '24 Bulldogs only meaningful victory that year was over George Halas' Bears in the first game of the season. The only other legit team that the Bulldogs played that year was the Frankford Yellow Jackets, who they played to a tie in their second game before having their 30 game winning streak brought to an end by them in their 8th game of the season.








    The other reason the Bulldogs of 1924 find themselves at the bottom of the list is that their Championship is somewhat disputed. The Rock Island Independence were another one of the premier teams in the NFL in the 1924 season. Rock Island were on a path to the top until their run at 1st place was brought to an end with a loss in Kansas City where their star player Fred "Duke" Slater was not allowed to play in the game because he was black. The official season ended with a 3 way log jam with the 7-1-1 Bulldogs, 6-1-4 Bears, and 11-2-1 Frankford all atop the standings. In December the four best teams arranged games against each other without the NFL's permission, with Chicago defeating both Cleveland and Frankford(and losing to Rock Island). The NFL declared all of the December games to be exhibitions since they were played without the league's permission, the Cleveland Bulldogs maintained their spot in 1st place and were awarded the NFL Championship.








    The Bulldogs never played Rock Island and never beat Frankford, even though their loss to Chicago that December wasn't official it still happened. Because of that the Cleveland Bulldogs will be bumped off the list and into the honorable mention category to make room for whichever team wins the 2017 Super Bowl next February.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    The Cleveland Bulldogs got robbed!


    "The Golden One" Devin Golden

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    Shannon O'Neal
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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    The 1969 Vikings were def robbed.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    Can we just take a moment to appreciate how impressive this is? I know he's only at 100, but you can tell just how much hard work has gone into each write up. He definitely did his research on every team. I'm looking forward to following this.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    #99
    Spoiler:




    1960 Houston Oilers

    I alluded to this in the Honorable Mentions writeup for the 66 Chiefs and 67 Raiders but I feel like the AFL Championship winning teams are worthy of being on the list since AFL history is a part of NFL history. The AFL changed the game and modernized pro football when the original 8 team owners("The Foolish Club" as they were penned by Wayne Valley) launched the league in 1960. The AFL success in the 1960's is remarkable when you think about the failed leagues that crashed and burned since then, the USFL of the 1980's and the infamous XFL in 2001, neither of which even came close to putting up the type of competition the AFL gave the NFL in the 1960's. One of the reasons for the AFL's success was the rich brash owners like Bud Adams, who along with the Kansas City Chiefs owner(and AFL founding father) Lamar Hunt were really the driving forces that ensured the AFL's survival and success.






    Bud Adams' money gave the Houston Oilers a jump start over the other 7 AFL teams when he put together the best team in the league, taking cast off's like George Blanda who was way past his prime and had been cut by the NFL's Chicago Bears in 1958. Bud Adams made a huge coup for the AFL when he threw his money on the table and stole the "Super Athlete", 2 time All American and 1959 Heisman Trophy winning running back out of Louisiana State; Billy Cannon. The LA Rams of the NFL signed Billy Cannon to an undated contract in November 1959, agreeing to pay Cannon $10,000 his first year with a $10,000 bonus and two more years at $15,000. Then general manager of the Rams(and later NFL Commissioner) Pete Rozelle signed Cannon to an undated contract in order to prevent endangering Cannon's eligibility to play in the Sugar Bowl. The first shot in the war between the AFL and NFL was fired immediately after the Sugar Bowl was over when Billy Cannon met in the end zone with Houston Oilers attorney Adrian Burke to sign a 3 year AFL contract with the Oilers for $100,000 and a $10,000 gift for his mother.




    ^Billy Cannon with Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams in 1960



    The AFL's first season was put together on the fly with teams drafting players on limited scouting information. The entire league was put together in less than a year, with several teams running amateur operations figuring things out as they went along. Through all the chaos of that first AFL season the Oilers emerged as the best team in the league, splitting games with the top contenders that season the Los Angeles Chargers and upstate rival Dallas Texans. Houston had the most explosive offense in the inaugural season, leading the league in total yards with 4,936. Wide receiver Bill Groman led the league(and all of pro football) in receiving yards with 1,473, trailing Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch's then all time NFL record from 1951 by only 22 yards. Billy Cannon led the team in rushing yards in his rookie season with 644 yards. George Blanda at 33 years old threw 24 touchdown passes to lead Houston to a 10-4 record and AFL Eastern Division title. The Oilers hosted the LA Chargers and their AFL leading quarterback Jack Kemp at Jeppessen Stadium in Houston on New Years Day 1961 for the inaugural AFL Championship Game. George Blanda threw for 300 passing yards and 3 touchdown passes, including an 88 yarder to Billy Cannon late in the game to seal the Oilers 24-16 victory.






    The case against the 1960 Houston Oilers is that they won the Championship in the AFL during it's most bush league state as the first 2 years were the years where the upstart league was going through some major growing pains and was nowhere near the level of the then 40 year old NFL. Some at the time considered the AFL to be the Mickey Mouse league, as the overall level of talent and competition was really low. The case for the Oilers being where they are on this list is that they had at least a partial claim as the best team in pro football since they never played the 1960 NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles to find out who the better team was. It would take a few years for the AFL to work out the kinks and build it's core teams up to where the product on the field was on par with what the NFL had, but it would have never gotten to that point if not for the original teams like the 1960 Houston Oilers that raised the bar.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    #98
    Spoiler:




    1962 Dallas Texans

    It's almost hard to believe that there was no pro football in the state of Texas for the first 40 years of NFL history. Football is a pretty big deal down in the Lone Star State these days, as far as the pro ball goes it all started with the AFL in 1960 with Bud Adams Oilers and Lamar Hunt's Dallas Texans. The NFL launched the Dallas Cowboys in 1960 to answer the AFL's expansion into the territory. The Texans and Cowboys went head to head at the box office, with the Texans going all out with spectacle entertainment and promotional tactics that would make Vince Mcmahon proud. While Lamar Hunt was going head to head in Dallas with the NFL there was another rivalry, a friendly rivalry with Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams, a dick measuring contest of sorts to see who had the best pro ball team in the state of Texas. For those first 2 seasons in the AFL Bud Adams had Lamar Hunt beat. Hunt caught up with Adams in the 1962 season and the result was one of the landmark games for the young upstart league.






    Lamar Hunt was the founding father of the AFL and one of the most financially secure owners out of the original 8 members of the "Foolish Club" that started the league in 1960. Hunt put together one of the most talented teams in Dallas in the early days of the AFL. The Texans 8-6 record was the third best in the AFL's inaugural season in 1960, good enough for second place in the Western Conference. The second year in the AFL the Texans struggled defensively and stumbled to a losing record at 6-8. By year 3 though head coach Hank Stram put together a team that could go toe to toe with the back to back defending champion Houston Oilers.






    The Texans young defense came together to lead the AFL in fewest points allowed(233), fewest rushing yards allowed(1,250), and fewest total yards allowed(3,951). The Texans defense sent 6 players to the AFL All Star game, including defensive linemen Jerry Mays and Mel Branch(who only had 3 years of pro football experience between them). Middle linebacker Sherrill Headrick and rookie defensive back Bobby Hunt were named first team All AFL team, altogether nobody on the Texans starting defense in 1962 was over the age of 25, with 2 rookies. On the offensive side of the ball the Texans led the AFL in points scored(389) as Len Dawson topped the AFL in passing yards(2,759) and touchdowns(29) while star running back Abner Haynes ran for over 1,000 yards and led the AFL with 19 touchdowns, tying Jim Taylor's NFL record performance that year.

    Both the Texans and the Oilers dominated the 1962 AFL season on a collision course for an all Texas showdown in the AFL Championship Game. The two teams met in back to back games in week 8 and week 9. The Texans came in at 5-1 to meet the 4-2 Oilers in Houston on October 28th 1962. Dallas defeated Houston 31-7 in the first meeting but the Oilers would not lose again for the rest of the regular season, closing down the year on a 7 game winning streak that included a 14-6 win over the Texans in Dallas on November 4th. The Dallas Texans would finish 11-3 to match the Oilers and capture their first AFL Western Division title. The showdown for the 3rd AFL Championship was set, the 11-3 Dallas Texans vs the 11-3 defending back to back AFL Champion Houston Oilers at Jeppesen Stadium in Houston on December 23rd 1962.






    The Oilers vs Texans AFL Championship game in 62 was a big landmark moment for the AFL. The two teams had a classic showdown on live television in front of a sold out crowd of 38,000. The game was played at a time when bad weather on the east coast had everybody huddled indoors around their television with nothing else to watch. The Dallas Texans took a 17-0 lead at halftime after 2 Abner Haynes touchdowns and a field goal. George Blanda and the Oilers fought back to tie the game up in the second half, sending it into overtime tied up at 17-17. The Texans and Oilers dueled to a 77+ minute double overtime thriller, the longest game of all time up to that point. The youthful Texans defense intercepted 35 year old George Blanda 5 times in the game, including a crucial one in the first overtime that saved the game. Dallas finally won it on a 25 yard field goal 6 minutes into the first overtime to give Lamar Hunt his first AFL Championship. The Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City to become the Chiefs just 2 months later, conceding the Dallas market to the NFL's Cowboys.

    The 1962 AFL Championship game was an excellent showcase for AFL football on a primetime stage at a crucial time for the 3 year old league. That game was really the turning point for the AFL, things really picked up from there. Three years later they had the NFL ready for a merger. The only reason why this Dallas Texans team is so low in the countdown is because they were clearly not the best team in pro football that season. Over in the NFL the Green Bay Packers completely dominated in 1962, with probably their best performance under the Vince Lombardi era. These Dallas Texans would have surely gotten destroyed by the Packers had there been an AFL vs NFL Championship in 1962. I say this because the two teams did play each other four years later in Super Bowl I, where the Packers destroyed the Chiefs handily. Based on that game I got to say the Packers would have probably beaten the Texans even more thoroughly as many of the talented players on that Chiefs team weren't around yet, and the Packers were even better in 62 than they were in 66. With that said though you never know since the game never happened, the Dallas Texans at least had a claim as the best team in pro football in 1962, their performance in the 1962 AFL Championship was a critical turning point in the history of a league that changed the sport forever.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    Really enjoying this so far, I commend you on your efforts and look forward to seeing this thing play out.


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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    Just stumbled onto this and I'ma subscribe. Good work dude.

    Spoiler:


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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    #97
    Spoiler:



    1928 Providence Steam Roller

    It's also hard to believe that the NFL was ever as minor league as it was in the 1920's, especially considering how the sport has been the most popular in the USA for the past 60 years. Pro wrestling was probably more popular and had more mainstream exposure than NFL football in the 20's, a decade where Major League Baseball, College Football, Boxing, and Horse Racing were the most popular sports. There was no NFL coverage on the radio or the newspapers in the 1920's, fans of a team on the road would gather around at a designated site to get updates of games via telephone, with scores and updates phoned in from the game and put on display on a chalk board for the hometown crowd to see. The NFL threatened to break through and go mainstream with wildly popular college superstars Red Grange and Ernie Nevers crossing over into the pro league in the mid-20's, drawing the biggest crowds the league had ever seen up to that point and generating a ton of hype and buzz in the media. By 1928 the two biggest superstars the NFL had were both out of the league. Grange was feeling the physical effects of grueling barnstorming tours around the country, missing the entire 1928 season with knee injuries, while Nevers spent the Summer pitching for the St. Louis Browns in the major leagues before quitting the NFL to take an assistant coaching job for "Pop" Warner at Stanford.

    Even without the two biggest stars the league had ever seen the NFL was pretty strong in 1928(in comparison to the previous 7 years of it's existence). George Halas played his final year as a player with a strong Chicago Bears team that featured Joey Sternaman, Paddy Driscoll, and some of the best front linemen of the era "Link" Lyman and George Trafton. Curly Lambeau's Packers were growing into one of the best teams in the league. The Detroit Wolverines fielded a tough young team with Benny Friedman and Bill Owen anchoring a team where none of the starters had anymore than 3 years experience, but still putting up one of the best records in the NFL that season at 7-2-1 to finish in 3rd place in the league. The two best teams in the league in 1928 turned out to be the Frankford Yellow Jackets and the Steamroller of Providence Rhode Island. The Yellow Jackets came out with big wins over Providence, Green Bay, and the Michigan Wolverines to take a commanding first place lead with a 7-1-1 record. Trailing behind them were the Providence Steamroller coached by Jimmy Conzelman, who fought back and won 4 games in a row following their loss to Frankford in week 2.




    The 5-1 Steamroller and the 7-1-1 Yellow Jackets were set to square off in back to back games in November 1928 with first place in the NFL on the line. The first game was played in Frankford on November 17th. The teams played to a scoreless tie at the half before the Yellow Jackets took a 6-0 lead on a blocked punt late in the 3rd quarter. Wildcat Wilson scored the tying touchdown for the Steamroller but Curly Oden missed the extra point kick, ending the game with a 6-6 tie. The rematch the very next day in Providence drew an overflow crowd of over 11,000 to the Cycledrome where the Steamroller took first place with a 6-0 victory after a 46 yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Oden. The Steamroller held on to their first place spot to win the NFL Championship with wins over the Pottsville Maroons and New York Giants before tying the Green Bay Packers in their final games.

    Probably the most unique(and relevant to this particular message board) player on the 1928 Providence Steamroller NFL Championship winning team was Gus Sonnenberg. Sonnenberg became a star in New England in his college football days at Dartmouth in New Hampshire. Sonnenberg didn't make any money bouncing around various teams in the NFL from 1923 until he landed in Providence in 1927. Gus crossed over to Pro Wrestling and began training on the mats while playing for the Steamroller, making his debut in the ring in January 1928.





    So before there was Mongo Mcmichael or Bill Goldberg or even Wahoo Mcdaniel or Ernie Ladd, there was Gus Sonnenberg. Sonnenberg got over big time because of his reputation from college football and the Providence Steamroller. Even though he wasn't much of an actual technical grappler like the traditional pro wrestlers of that era he was pushed strong because of his popularity. He wasn't a shooter, he had no amateur wrestling background or skills, instead he brought a different style that according to a Times Magazine article in 1936, had a pretty big influence on American pro wrestling:


    "An upturn was provided in 1928 by Gus Sonnenberg and the flying tackle he used as a Darmouth footballer. His first opponent, no halfback, was unable to dodge, and was carted unconscious from the mat. The success of this new tactic quickly boosted the sport. With addicts neither so naive nor so particular as before, refinement soon disappeared entirely. Eye gouging, hair pulling, and kicking became common practice. Assault & battery on the referee proved popular diversion. Lately one wrestler introduced the new fad of trying to garrote his opponent with three feet of chicken wire. Though even the most bloodthirsty addicts frown on its use, chloroform has been employed on several occasions to down an adversary."


    Time magazine, 1936

    After only 6 months in the business "Dynamite" Gus Sonnenberg's phenomenon grew to the point where he got a title shot against NWA World Champion Ed "Strangler" Lewis in Boston in June 1928. Lewis defeated Sonnenberg but the match drew over 14,000 fans to Boston Arena. Sonnenberg was protected in defeat by being able to score a pin over the champ in the first fall after landing his patented flying tackle. For the second fall Sonnenberg missed the flying tackle and flew out of the ring and was unable to continue, giving Lewis the victory even though he never scored a fall. Just a month after Sonnenberg and the Providence Steamroller won the NFL Championship Sonnenberg took on Lewis in a rematch for the NWA Championship at the Boston Garden, January 4th 1929. A crowd of 20,000 packed in to see Sonnenberg defeat Lewis to win the NWA Title, ending Ed Lewis' decade plus long reign atop the business. The match was filmed and shown to pro wrestling enthusiasts all around the world. According to Jonathan Snowden's book "Shooters: The Toughest Men In Pro Wrestling" Sonnenberg kept the title for over 2 years with a target on his back by all of the shooters in the business during that time. Sonnenberg traveled around with a group of shooters, or "Policemen" who protected him from would be double crossers. Promoters were very careful about who they matched Sonnenberg up against since he had no legit wrestling skills.




    Sonnenberg had no real wrestling ability but fans didn't care, he was entertaining enough that he still drew big numbers, including a record setting $90,000 gate for his third match against Ed Lewis, drawing 25,000 fans to Fenway Park, followed by another record setting crowd in California for a match against Everett Marshall that drew over 25,000. While Sonnenberg was being protected from shooters of that era one of the most popular ones that he was being protected from, Jim Londos, broke away from the union and started a rival promotion with Toots Mondt. Mondt and Londos booked a fake Gus Sonnenberg to job out on their tours around the country. The rivalry between the two promotions boiled over to the point where Londos paid one of his friends to attack Sonnenberg in the street to expose him. Sonnenberg was attacked by Pete Ladjone, a friend of Londos who knocked Sonnenberg to the ground with a headbutt before straddling him in a full mount and shouting that he'd whooped the World Champion. Sonnenberg went to the police and filed charges and Ladjone did 30 days in jail for assault. Sonnenberg's reputation was damaged and he would eventually do the job to put the World Title on 1928 Olympian Ed Don George. The Steamroller closed up shop and folded just 3 years after winning the 1928 Title, their Championship season becoming a forgotten part of NFL lore.

    The Steamroller find themselves this low on the list because other than Gus Sonnenberg's crossover into pro wrestling and the Cycledrome bicycle racing track where they played their games there is nothing that really stands out about their Championship winning season. There weren't any real stand out players or performances that year, and even though the NFL was a bit more organized towards the end of the decade it was still a mess with teams playing uneven amounts of games and an overall lower level of competition compared to later decades in NFL history. In all actuality the Steamroller won the NFL Title in a season where the league was in transition, with the old guard fading out(Canton/Cleveland Bulldogs, Frankford Yellow Jackets, Pottsville Maroons) and the future powerhouses still under construction(Bears, Packers, Giants). With that said though the team did win the NFL Championship outright that year, one of the stronger more organized seasons of the 1920's NFL, the Providence Steamroller that year were one of only a small handful of teams that laid an undisputed claim as the best pro team in the world in the wild wild west decade of the 1920's.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    #96
    Spoiler:



    1961 Houston Oilers



    When you're looking through the NFL Record & Fact Book perusing through the annual statistical leaders section or checking out the all time records there are a few stats that really stick out, some of those are the video game like numbers put up by the Houston Oilers offense of the AFL in 1961. The AFL was mostly a work in progress during it's first 2 seasons but they put forth a product that was flashy and entertaining, different enough from what the NFL offered that they won over a cult following on ABC that only grew with every season. The Houston Oilers stood ahead of the pack in the AFL's first and second year, in their second year they put up some ungodly offensive numbers that were unorthodox for pro football of that era. Houston came out of the gate struggling to a 1-3-1 record before Bud Adams fired head coach Lou Rymkus and put Wally Lemm at the helm, the Oilers never lost again, torching the league and making opposing defenses look like amateurs as they set all time records on their 9 game winning streak they closed the season out with.





    The Oilers posted 40 or more points in 6 games in 1961, including the 55-0 blowout of the Oakland Raiders on opening day and the 55-14 romping of the Denver Broncos. Altogether the Oilers offense scored 513 points in just 14 games(averaging 36.6 per game), the most of any pro team ever up to that point, the most that any team that followed would put up until the 1983 Redskins topped it 23 years later(playing 16 games). Houston's 6,288 total yards also set an all time mark, a record that would not be broken until the 1980 San Diego Chargers, 19 years later. The key component to the Houston Oilers explosive offense was the performance of their ageless wonder of a quarterback George Blanda, who at 34 years old threw for 3,330 yards and 36 touchdown passes, the most any quarterback in pro football had ever thrown for(a record that wouldn't be broken until Dan Marino in 1984, 23 years later, though Y.A. Tittle tied the record in 1963). Blanda had 2 games with over 400 yards passing, including a game in November where he threw 7 touchdown passes against the New York Titans, to this day Blanda is one of only 7 quarterbacks to have ever thrown 7 TD passes in a single game(7 touchdowns is the single game NFL record).





    Blanda had two of the best receivers in the AFL at his disposal in 1961, particularly Charley Hennigan, who's 1,746 receiving yards in 1961 was the most in pro football history at the time, a record that would not be broken until 34 years later(1995 by Jerry Rice & Isaac Bruce). Hennigan's 272 receiving yards in a game against the Patriots in October was also a pro football record at the time, a record that would not be broken until 24 years later. Receiver Bill Groman was another valuable weapon for the Oilers in 1961 with 1,175 yards and 17 touchdown catches(another pro football record at the time, one that stood for 23 years until Mark Clayton broke it in 1984). Billy Cannon broke out in his second year with 948 rushing yards and another 586 yards receiving. Cannon's 373 combined net yards against the New York Titans in a game in December 1961 was yet another pro football record at the time, a record that wouldn't be broken until 23 years later.





    The Oilers finished the 1961 on a 9 game winning streak before taking down the 12-2 San Diego Chargers in San Diego in the AFL Championship Game. George Blanda threw 5 interceptions in the game but the Oilers defense held on to help Houston win it 10-3, capturing their second AFL Championship title in a row. There's no real way to tell how the Oilers would have done against the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers had their been an AFL vs NFL Championship in 1961. I find it highly doubtful that any of the AFL Champions could have posed much of a threat to the Packers at any point in the 60's but since they never played we will never really know. There were two pro champions in 1961, the two kings of the two leagues that were in a war that pushed the sport of pro football to being the most popular in the nation, one of them was a Houston Oilers team that shredded their league with offensive firepower that had never been seen in the pro game before.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    This may be one of the most detailed, well thought out lists I've ever seen on here. Tight work so far, excited for the rest.


    #Fitzmajic




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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    Pretty sure the Providence Steam Roller is a sex position and not a football team.

    This is great. I've lost my interest for football over the years but this has a lot of work and passion put into it.
    -------
    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!
    Spoiler:


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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    Quote Originally Posted by Darling Nicky View Post
    Pretty sure the Providence Steam Roller is a sex position and not a football team.
    Isn't that a Cleveland Steamer?



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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuji Vice View Post
    Isn't that a Cleveland Steamer?



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Pfft, you've never had a Providence Steam Roller? I thought you liked fun.
    -------
    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!
    Spoiler:


  17. #17
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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    Quote Originally Posted by Darling Nicky View Post
    Pfft, you've never had a Providence Steam Roller? I thought you liked fun.
    Sounds like it may be a little too much fun for me.


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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    #95

    Spoiler:



    1965 Buffalo Bills


    Most fans memories of the Buffalo Bills franchise only goes back as far as their 4 consecutive Super Bowl losses from 1990 to 1993. Few people remember or know that at one time the Bills were back to back champions of the AFL in 1964-1965, one of the strongest teams in the league's decade long history. After raiding the NFL and stealing away most of the top draft picks from 1960 to 1964, the AFL was a much tougher, more physical, and more competitive league by the 1965 season. Teams ran the ball more and played tighter defenses as the league matured through the 1960's. The Bills in 1964 were really the first AFL team to look like they were tough enough to go head to head with an NFL team. The Bills traded away their star power running back Cookie Gilchrest and suffered a myriad of injuries to it's receiving corps but the defense picked up their slack and led the team to a second consecutive AFL Championship in 1965.




    The Bills took out their division rival New England Patriots on opening day and then punished their former running back Cookie Gilchrest's new team in Denver. Gilchrest was pounded by the Bills defense and held to just 26 yards rushing as Buffalo ran over the Broncos 30-15. For the Bills 3rd game they hosted and defeated big money rookie of the year Joe Namath's New York Jets 33-21. The Bills lost their star receiver Elbert Dubenion for the rest of the season in the game against the Jets when he tore a ligament in his knee on an 11 yard touchdown catch. The Bills suffered their first loss of the season at home against the San Diego Chargers, losing 34-3 in a rematch of the 1964 AFL Championship Game. The other Bills receiving threat Glen Bass was injured in the loss to San Diego and lost for the rest of the season. By week 7's rematch against Denver the Bills had an all new receiving corp, featuring rookie Paul Costa starting his first game along with Bo Roberson who they brought in the week before the game through a trade with the Oakland Raiders. Quarterback Jack Kemp didn't miss a lick, throwing for 280 yards and 2 touchdowns to help the Bills beat the Broncos 31-13.




    The Bills defense led the league with fewest points allowed with 226, with 4 players named first team AFL All Pro team(Tom Sestak, Mike Stratton, Butch Byrd, and George Saimes). Other notable players on the team include one of the greatest offensive lineman of his era, NFL Hall of Famer and a member of the NFL 1960's All Decade Team, Billy Shaw(only NFL Hall of Famer that never played a down of his career in the NFL, he retired in 1969 before the merger). Also Marty Schottenheimer began his career as a rookie backup linebacker on this '65 Bills squad. On the special teams side of the ball kicker Pete Gogalak set a new pro football record with 28 field goals.




    Buffalo's defense carried a busted up offense to a 10-3-1 record to capture the 1965 AFL Eastern Division title. In the AFL Championship Game the Bills decimated the San Diego Chargers. Jack Kemp threw a touchdown pass, Butch Byrd ran an interception back 77 yards for a touchdown, and Pete Gogalak nailed 3 field goals in a 23-0 shut out in San Diego. Perhaps Buffalo's finest accomplishment was their 17 game streak from 1964 to 1965 without a rushing touchdown allowed, a record that still hasn't been broken.

    The AFL-NFL merger was negotiated shortly after the 1965 season and arrangements were made for an AFL vs NFL World Championship Game to be played the next year. It's ironic that the team that is remembered for losing 4 Super Bowls was one of the teams that was responsible for the Super Bowl's existence in the first place. The Bills were not a Mickey Mouse football club, they were a smashmouth ground and pound team that was tough as any team in the NFL, a team that could run the football at will and play physical hard hitting defense that fans were used to seeing in the NFL. Football fans wanted to see how they would fare against the NFL. The '65 Bills were one of the teams that made the AFL look like it was on equal footing with the NFL, muscle for muscle, hit for hit. There were two pro leagues in 1965, two teams that wore the crown, the Bills were the kings of the AFL and probably would have given the 1965 NFL Champion Green Bay Packers a tough challenge.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    Quote Originally Posted by ShinobiMusashi View Post

    Scores a 97/100 on the "social media profile pic" scale.


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    Re: The 100 Greatest Teams In NFL History

    #94

    Spoiler:




    1963 San Diego Chargers


    Times were a changin' in 1963, president Kennedy was assassinated in the middle of the AFL and NFL seasons, a hot new band called The Beatles dropped their debut album, and the growing civil rights movement was beginning to bring down segregation. Black fans were roped off in a separate area from the white fans in football games in the 1960's. Black players were few and far in between in the NFL(usually teams had 2 or 4 on a team so that they could room together on the road, since blacks and whites weren't allowed to share rooms). The black players that did play in the NFL were reserved for certain positions, never a middle linebacker, safety, or quarterback since it was a racist stereotype at the time that African American's couldn't think critically. Over in the AFL the new league had no choice but to give black football players a chance to earn their spot on a roster, some of the most talented players of the era were players that never got a chance in the NFL because of the color of their skin. One of the teams that spearheaded the AFL's progressive attitude towards scouting was Sid Gillman's San Diego Chargers, employing a young Al Davis as his top scout, the Chargers had a pipeline to the black colleges out of all African American colleges like Grambling and Texas Southern. Sid Gillman's equal opportunity policy in San Diego was possibly inspired by his own struggles with discrimination after he was turned down for head coaching jobs by teams in the Big 10 due to the fact that he was Jewish. Going into the 1963 season the Chargers had over a dozen black players on the team.

    Sid Gillman's Chargers fell short against the Houston Oilers in both of the first two AFL Championship Games before coming out and falling flat in 1962, finishing with a 4-10 record. Gillman tried some new things to try to get his team over the hump in 1963, pulling his team away from all the distractions for a hard preseason training camp in a hellish desert mountain ranch called "Rough Acres". Rough Acres lived up to it's name, toilets and showers were busted, bunk houses where the teams stayed and prepared were infested with rats, bats, donkeys, and tarantulas, while the field they practiced on was a haven for rattlesnakes. It was under these conditions that Sid Gillman worked to build his team into a close unit, rooming black and white players together in a conscious effort to ease racial tensions on his team. Gillman also introduced a first for pro football, a dedicated coach for strength and condition that had his team weight training. Sid Gillman's plan worked as the Chargers came out and ran away with the AFL Western Division title in 1963. The Chargers had a commanding lead on their division with an 8-2 record when the AFL cancelled the weekend of games after the Kennedy Assassination, coming back from the break to close the season out on a 3-1 run to finish with a league best 11-3 record.




    Sid Gillman's aerial offense was innovative for it's time. Al Davis once described Gillman as "The Einstein and master of the passing game in pro football". The Chargers led the AFL in total rushing yards(2,203), total yards(5,153, most in AFL or NFL), and total points(399). Chargers quarterback Tobin Rote was a cast off from the Detroit Lions in the NFL where he led them to an NFL Championship in 1957. In 1963 Rote led the AFL in passing with 2,510 yards and 20 touchdowns, becoming the only quarterback to win a Championship in both the AFL and the NFL. Blocking for Rote on the Chargers offensive line was "The Intellectual Assassin" Ron Mix, while running back Paul Lowe ran for 1,010 rushing yards. On the defensive side Earl Faison and 6' 9" 315 pound WWE Hall of Famer Ernie Ladd helped the Chargers defense lead the AFL in fewest points allowed in 1963(255).

    The most talented player on this 1963 Chargers squad is arguably wide receiver Lance Alworth, "Bambi", the first AFL player ever to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame(which coincidentally was first opened in 1963). Lance Alworth epitomized the AFL's pass happy style of football, one of the best wide receivers in all of pro football in the 1960's. Bambi caught for 1,205 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns and was named the AFL MVP for the 1963 season.




    The Chargers made their 3rd appearance in the AFL Championship Game and destroyed the Boston Patriots on January 5th 1964 at Balboa Stadium. Sid Gillman devised a plan to neutralize the Patriots blitz happy defense. Chargers fullback Keith Lincoln had a perfect game, running the ball 13 times for 206 rushing yards and 1 touchdown, while catching 7 passes for 123 yards and another touchdown. The Chargers blew the Patriots out by a score of 51-10 to win their one and only Championship in franchise history, the 1963 AFL Championship. On the Chargers AFL Championship rings they boldly emblazoned the words "World Champions". Many football fans clamored for a Chargers vs Bears AFL vs NFL showdown. The Chargers even outright challenged the Bears but the NFL declined, even after the Chargers agreed to let the Bears pick the field, the time, and even use their own NFL footballs. Many journalists and former players such as Otto Graham believed that the Chargers could have won a game against the 1963 NFL Champion Chicago Bears had the Super Bowl existed, books have even been written about the subject.


    "The only way to settle the argument about NFL football and AFL football is to play. I definitely feel it would be a match"
    -Sid Gillman, Chargers coach






    The 1963 season was a breakout season for the AFL, the league had gained a foothold in the public consciousness as a viable alternative to the NFL. The world of pro football had 2 leagues, 2 Championship teams that both claimed to be the best in the world, I feel like the AFL's Chargers of that season belong on the list because they had a legit claim to the title of best in the world that year, they were one of the early AFL teams that legitimized the league and had football fans yearning for an AFL vs NFL showdown. The hype only grew as the war raged on, finally the two leagues didn't really have a choice but to merge. AFL history became a part of NFL history, the Super Bowl was born, the sport passed up baseball as American's favorite. The game had changed.



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