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HARRIS: NFL dynasties not what they used to be, but Seahawks built to last

- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2014

The Super Bowl was a super bore, a non-competitive affair that went downhill pretty much from the first snap.

The commercials weren't that great, either.

Disagreement about the game, of course, will come from the upper left portion of the country and anywhere else Seahawks fans gather. To them, the night was magical and maybe for reasons that go beyond the 43-8 whipping Seattle put on Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Sunday.

What should really have Seahawks fans excited is the thought that this may become a regular thing.

Dynasty is a tough word to throw out in sports because they are a lot more rare than they used to be in the days of the old Green Bay Packers or the old Boston Celtics in basketball or New York Yankees in baseball or Edmonton Oilers in hockey.

Getting to a championship level is difficult and staying there may be harder still. But Seattle looks as if it is made for more than a one-year run to greatness, which qualifies as the long haul these days.

It has been a while since there has been a dynasty in the NFL.

The New England Patriots are the closest thing the league has had to one in recent years. The Pats won three of four Super Bowls from 2002-05. No team has won two straight since. New England's streak of five straight playoff appearances is the longest in the league, as is its streak of four straight seasons with at least 12 victories.

But the Patriots are now nine years removed since their last title and though they've made two Super Bowls since, it is hard to call a team a dynasty when it hasn't won a title since 2005.

Why can the Seahawks make a reasonable claim as a team with a chance to become one?

Well, for starters, did you watch Sunday? Denver had a hand in its own destruction, sure, but the Seahawks had a large one, too. This is not just a team with a fearsome defense. It is well-constructed and balanced. And it is young. The Associated Press, using STATS as its guide, reports the Seahawks are the fourth-youngest team to win a Super Bowl. Their players' average age is 26 years, 175 days.

Quarterback Russell Wilson, who just completed his second season and now has as many Super Bowl titles as Manning, is 25.

Running back Marshawn Lynch is 27.

Cornerback Richard Sherman is 25.

Malcolm Smith, who become just the third linebacker to be named MVP of the Super Bowl, is only 24.

You get the idea.

Despite all it has going, Seattle earning multiple titles in coming seasons or even a consecutive championship next season won't be easy. Free agency has changed the NFL like it has other sports and made maintaining a high level much more difficult. Since unrestricted free agency became a part of the league's landscape in 1993, staying good has become increasingly more difficult.

Dallas won back-to-back titles in 1993-94, Denver did it in 1998-99 and New England did it in 2004-05. The New York Giants and Pittsburgh have won two apiece since New England's repeat titles, but they were not in succession.

In the first 14 Super Bowls, there were back-to-back champions four times. Pittsburgh did it twice.

Teams can get closer to the Seahawks' level by signing free agents in addition to trading and drafting. It makes it easier to make up ground, and to lose ground when one of your free agents leaves. To keep that talent together for a long stretch, Seattle is going to have open its checkbook wide and likely won't be able to keep all of its key players because of salary cap restrictions.

So, yeah, given all that, maybe dynasty is a reach. Let's amend that to as much a dynasty as a team can become in these free agent/salary cap days.

The overall point is this is a very good time to be a Seahawks fan. What they did to the Broncos was a bit of a surprise in how one-sided the game became, but that they were clearly the superior team shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. Nor should it when they are the league's best team next season and maybe even beyond.

What they've done is impressive and very difficult to do these days. They've put together a team that is built to last, for however long that means anymore.

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