Tha Sports Junkies 101

Clash of The Dynasties- Patriots vs Yankees

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The Greatness of Pro Sports Dynasties

There is one goal that every franchise in the four major sports sets their eyes on. That goal is winning a championship. Reaching this goal is an incredible achievement, doing it multiple times in a short time-span? Simply astounding. Teams who achieve this have created a dynasty.  The greatness of pro sports dynasties is something that people often take for granted, but let’s take a second to drive deeper into this.

Phil Jackson set the standard, winning six titles with the Chicago Bulls and five more with the Los Angeles Lakers. Behind him are coaches Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick, who have led the San Antonio Spurs and New England Patriots to five championships each.

In my opinion, the “Core Four” era New York Yankees and Brady-Belichick era New England Patriots stand out above the rest. Two different sports, overlapping eras, multiple big names, and two cities that are historic rivals. Despite the differences, many parallels can be drawn between the two iconic dynasties. The question remains however: which of the two have been more iconic and impressive?

Patriots’ Strengths

The construction of the teams that have made up the Pats’ dynasty is remarkable. There have been some sexy free agent signings and early round draft picks that have helped to compliment the roster for each championship team. This includes Rob Gronkowski, Darrelle Revis, Rodney Harrison, Willie McGinest, among others. However, what is truly remarkable is all the diamonds in the rough that have been contributors to the Belichick dynasty.

The very nucleus of the Patriots dynasty, Tom Brady, was a sixth round pick. There were 198 players selected in the 2000 NFL Draft before Brady. Since then, Brady has amassed perhaps the most impressive list of accolades in NFL history, including 2 MVP Awards, 5 Super Bowls rings, 4 Super Bowl MVPs, 12 Pro Bowl trips, and much more. Not bad for a guy that was a backup at the University of Michigan.

Several other notable players on New England’s championship teams were cast aside by other teams as well. This includes Julian Edelman. Edelman was an undrafted free agent and didn’t even play wide receiver in college. Belichick got a hold of him and converted him into one of Brady’s favorite targets at receiver. The Patriot dynasty is also unlike any other in the Super Bowl era. Even the days of Joe Montana’s 49ers don’t compare to Brady’s Patriots. New England’s five championships (and counting) since 2002 is truly remarkable, compared to the four that Montana’s ‘9ers won. The foundation of the championship rosters and their place in NFL history is what makes this dynasty stand out.

Patriots’ Weaknesses

The Brady-Belichick era Patriots dynasty is undoubtedly as one of the most impressive in the history of sports. However, this all-time dynasty does not come without its blemishes. Unfortunately, when many think of the Patriots nowadays, controversy comes to mind. Spy-gate, Deflate-gate, the “Tuck-Rule Game”, the list goes on. Whether or not the “cheating” actually had anything to do with helping the Patriots win games is a debate. However, they still exist and have left a blemish on an otherwise incredible legacy for Belichick and Brady.

Controversies aside, there are other reasons why perhaps the dynasty is not as impressive as it appears. For instance, New England has been fortunate to play in arguably the worst division in football. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are consistently non-competitive while the Buffalo Bills have not made the playoffs in the 21st century. Just look at some of the Quarterbacks that the Patriots have dealt in this division since their dominance began- Mark Sanchez, Chad Henne, Ryan Tannehill, Jay Fiedler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, etc. That’s not exactly a list Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees.

It’s no wonder the Patriots have won the AFC East all but one season since 2004. That year was 2008 when Brady tore his ACL (yet they still managed to go 11-5). Even this past season, with Brady suspended for the first four games the Pats still managed to go 3-1 in his absence and 14-2 overall. This reflects on the strength of the coaching staff and overall roster but also the lack of competition within the division and the conference.

Yankees’ Strengths

The New York Yankees are one of the most decorated franchises in sports, with twenty-seven championships to their name. On top of the famous “Murderer’s Row” dynasty of the 1920’s, the Yankees also boast the more recent “Core-Four” dynasty, which won 5 championships from 1996-2009.

The Core-Four references Shortstop Derek Jeter, Closer Mariano Rivera, Starting Pitcher Andy Pettitte, and Catcher Jorge Posada. These four New York icons are one reason why the Yankees’ dynasty was so impressive and iconic. Despite 13 years between their first and last championship together, all four of these players were key pieces to the Yankees winning each of their championships. Several other stars helped the Yankees reach their goals such as Roger Clemens, Tino Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, Alex Rodriguez, and many more. However, the homegrown quartet of Jeter, Mo, Pettitte, and Posada were the only ones on every single championship team.

On top of this, the Yankees dynasty is unlike any in recent history. The Yankees dealt with fierce competition from within the division including some very good Red Sox teams who the Yankees consistently faced in the postseason. Yet New York still managed to have a winning season every single year throughout the dynasty. The Yankees have also faced some historically great opponents in the playoffs and overcame. This includes the 2001 Mariners who won a record 116 games during the regular season. The Yankees led by team captain Derek Jeter and manager Joe Torre accomplished more than just five championships as well.  The 1998 team holds the record for most wins in a season including the playoffs with 125. What these Yankees accomplished during this era is simply extraordinary.

Yankees’ Weaknesses

One thing the Yankees dynasty that spanned from the late 90’s to the late 2000’s has going against it is that dynasties seem to be more commonplace in baseball. New England‘s dynasty stands out because their utter dominance is simply unparalleled in NFL history.

While the Yankees‘ most recent dynasty is undoubtedly impressive, its not even the most impressive in Yankees history let alone MLB history.  Despite their incredible run, their fiercest rival- the Boston Red Sox have also won multiple championships (three) since 2004.This shows the intense competition the Yankees had to face during their reign. However, it also shows that they were not completely dominant.

The biggest blemish on the Yankees‘ dynasty is perhaps the biggest choke job ever when New York blew a 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series to the Boston Red Sox in 2004. Boston would go on to win its first championship in 86 years thereafter and start their own dynasty-lite. Despite the incredible accomplishments, what happened in 2004 will never be forgotten.

The Verdict

Both dynasties are iconic and impressive in their own rights, and while it is difficult to compare between two sports, one can still determine which dynasty is superior. Ultimately, The “Core-Four” era Yankees dynasty is the more impressive. The accomplishments that Torre‘s Yankees made are simply more astounding when factoring in things like the level of competition and the difficulty of the pathway to their five championships. On top of this, the “Core-Four” dynasty is more iconic simply because the Yankees franchise in general is the most well recognized North American sports brand in the world.

The accomplishments of Brady and Belichick‘s patriots are awe-inspiring and undoubtedly historic. The questions of legitimacy behind their dominance as well as the cake-walk they are given to the top of their division every year makes their dynasty slightly less impressive than the “Core-Four” Yankees.