The trend was looking quite similar to that of Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s Patriots had won three titles early in their New England tenure.
The Bulls two-year hiccup prior to winning another three titles came due to MJ’s strange retirement from hoops in favor of minor league baseball.
The Patriots hiccup was also supposed to last only two years. Instead it’s turned into a six-year break from the Lombardi Trophy.
But there’s a strong feeling that the run isn’t over.
Few would be absolutely floored if the Brady-Belichick duo closed things out in New England with one, two or even three more titles.
But if the Patriots lose this weekend to the Broncos?
“Clutch” will have fully given way to “choke.” Brady and Belichick will look a lot more like Manning and Dungy than Jordan and Phil Jackson due to their recent one-and-done results in the playoffs.
Of course, all dynasties fizzle out at some point. Maybe we’ve already seen the best of Tom and Bill.
Chuck Noll’s last title came in 1980. He was head coach of the Steelers until 1991.
Don Shula won his last title in 1974. He remained head coach of the Dolphins until 1995.
Tom Landry last won in 1978. He was head coach of the Cowboys until 1988.
Hall of Fame quarterbacks like Dan Marino and Joe Montana struggled to win big in their final few years.
So we’ve seen all this before.
Saturday night we’ll get a better idea of which trend Brady and Belichick are following.