As a young child I fondly remember the 1990-1993 Buffalo Bills.
For starters, they were the livest team ever on Tecmo Super Bowl. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, James Lofton, Bruce Smith, Darryl Talley, Cornelius Thomas, etc. I mean, they were unfair. For some other more obvious reasons, I also remember the 1990-1993 Buffalo Bills because for four consecutive years they "attended" the Super Bowl. We all remember the skull-drugging escapades that the Bills were on the wrong side of. We remember "Wide Right". We remember Thurman Thomas losing his helmet. We remember the Cowboys putting a 35-piece on 'em.
However...that Buffalo Bills team was still one of the greatest collections of talent I've ever seen to this day, and it made me think about some of the greatest teams that never was as we enter the 2011 NFL Playoffs.
The 2007 New England Patriots - In my entire life, I've never seen a team continually give other teams the blues quite like the '07 Patriots. The Patriots were out there beating the brakes off of teams like they stole something from they mama. Tom Brady to Randall Gene Moss was the most prolific passing combination this earth had ever seen. Wes Welker became the great white hype of slot wide receivers. Reche Caldwell somehow became a relevant wide receiver in the league. Things were happening for no damn reason for the Patriots that at a certain point it almost seemed unfair. They were downright evil, crude, and malicious and folks began to openly despise the Patriots. It was a beautiful thing.
So we know what happened, they finished the season 16-0. Knocked off Jacksonville in the divisional playoff, then the San Diego Chargers in the conference championship, and landed in the Super Bowl in Arizona versus the New York Giants aka the only team in the NFL that could actually get to the quarterback with four down lineman. The evil empire came down, and that team was never the same again.
The 1998 Minnesota Vikings - Everyone I knew back when I was 15 years old loved the Minnesota Vikings. Seeing Randall Cunningham resurrect his career in Minneapolis arguably had the best year of his NFL career. Robert Smith was arguably the quietest, high-yella tailback who was live as hell back then. Veteran wide receiver Cris Carter finally got him a phenom to bring under his tutelage in the explosive rookie Randy Moss along with Jake Reed and Langston University's own Matthew Hatchette, and the Vikings set a then-NFL record by scoring a total of 556 points, never scoring fewer than 24 in a game. I mean this team finished the season 15-1, and the Vikings were going out there literally doing whatever they wanted. Randy was telling Randall to just "chuck it up there dog", Cris was telling Randall to throw passes to the sideline so he could practice his one-handed catches, and Robert Smith was just running wind sprints all day.
Sadly...that team ultimately met up with the Dirty Bird Atlanta Falcons, who I will admit to being a fan of back then. Minnesota had the best kicker in the league and in all-time history in Gary Anderson who at that time was 238 years old, but had made 35 of 35 field goals on the season. Dude hadn't missed in years. With Minnesota up 27-20 with two minutes left in the 4th quarter, all they needed him to do was to make a 38-yarder. What does he do? Miss the 38-yarder. 15 minutes later, the Vikings are going home.
The 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars - Some of you all are going to read "the '99 Jaguars?" WTF Ed, stop being a homer. As is the case here at ETSF, sometimes you have to educate. The '99 Jaguars will always be my favorite team ever, and for good reason. The '99 Jags were the #1 seed in the AFC and finished 14-2, only losing to the Tennessee Titans. Mark Brunell had officially become Steve Young, Jr. in Jacksonville, Fred Taylor was finally able to put together a complete season, and let it be known that Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell was the best wide receiver combination in the NFL. The defense was stout, there were playmakers all around the field, and the Jaguars were primetime contenders for the Super Bowl that season.
Of course, we had to play the Tennesee Titans a third time.
After the Jaguars mollywhopped the Dolphins 62-7, the Titans walked into AllTell stadium acting like they owned the joint. It was downright infuriating, but of course the Titans came in and owned the joint. Steve McNair and Eddie George were the two toughest sons of bitches on the field, and I'll always respect them for it. Jeff Fisher was a better coach than Tom Coughlin, the Titans defense were formidably better than Jacksonville's, and they were better bred to be killers. It pains me to type that, but its the truth. There's never been a team in NFL history that has lost to the same team three times in one season, but I'll always love that '99 team.
Enjoy the playoffs everyone, its going to be a great playoff weekend.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!