During the 1970s and 1980s respectively, the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers dominated professional football. From 1974 to 1989 the Steelers and 49ers went on to win a combined 8 super bowl championships each winning four respectively. These two great franchises produced many great players during this era as well as many great games. Since the year 2000, these two proud franchises went in totally different directions. The 49ers have only made two playoff appearances since the year 2000, while the Steelers have gone on to win two more super bowls and have made numerous playoff appearances.
The Steelers have sent numerous players to the pro bowl and have landed a franchise quarterback, while the 49ers haven’t had a franchise quarterback since Steve Young’s retirement at the end of the 1999 season. The contrast between the two teams begin with the ownership. While the Steelers ownership has been solid since the beginning of the franchise under the control of the legendary Rooney family, the 49ers haven’t been run well since former owner Eddie DeBartolo gave up control of the organization to his sister back in 1999.
The Steelers opened a new stadium earlier in the millennium, have continued to draft well, produced good players, and have kept an identity. Meanwhile the 49ers continue to be one of the more unstable franchises in the National Football League. Going through many different head coaches, quarterbacks, and offensive philosophies, the 49ers have failed to maintain the success they attained in the 1980’s and 90’s. The 49ers continue to play in the most run down stadium in the NFL, as well as hire head coaches that are not successful.
Even though they have shown flashes of being good the last couple of years they have not been able to breakthrough and make their first playoff appearance since 2002. On the other hand the Steelers continue to be a contender year in and year out. Every year the Steelers always have one of the most physical and dominant defenses in the league, and every year they continue to put up double digit wins and make deep playoff runs. This past season the Steelers were close to winning their third super bowl in six years but was not able to pull it off, losing to the Green Bay Packers 31-25.
Maybe in the coming years the roles will reverse. The good thing about the NFL is the parody that exists in the league. Every year there is always a team that isn’t expected to do well that surprises the league and puts together a lot of wins. Hopefully the 49ers can turn things around and bring back the glory days for all of their faithful fans. After being spoiled for so many years the 49ers’ fans have been frustrated for much of the last ten years. The 49ers eventually will get out of their funk and put together a winner.
The Steelers continue to be one of the model franchises in all of professional sports. They retain their head coaches for long periods of time, they don’t spend big money on high price free agents but continue to draft well. The Steelers also have the best fan base in the National Football League. No matter where the Steelers play in the country you can bet at least fifty percent of the crowd at the stadium are waiving those “terrible towels”. It is amazing how two franchises can be so go for so long and how one of them can go into a decade long downward spiral.
This just goes to show you that if your favorite team is successful at the time, that you should enjoy it because you never know when the bad times will come. And for those fans of losing team, keep the faith that your team will bounce back and eventually win a super bowl. As a 49ers fan myself, I took for granted how good my team was because I never saw them field a bad team. The last ten years the 49ers have given me headaches and severe anxiety on Sundays in the fall, but every year I keep the faith that they will make me proud and win again.