Published: February 13th, 2011 | Tags: New England Patriots, Brett Favre, Chad Ochocinco, Emmitt Smith, Eric Mangini, Hugh Jackman, Indianapolis Colts, Jerry Glanville, Michael Irvin, Peyton Manning, Steve Smith South, Terrell Owens, Tom Brady
Valentine’s Day is a day of love, so it’s only fitting that we take a look back at the things we love about the 2000s in the NFL. We have narrowed the list down to six here. But after giving this a look, you can join in the action down below and say what you love about the NFL.
And then tomorrow, we can all go back to our scorn for the Raiders, the Manning family and Hugh Jackman.
6. Brady vs. Manning rivalry
The NFL has lived on rivalries, from the Steelers vs. Browns, to the Packers vs. Bears, to the Raiders vs. just about everybody. And the biggest rivalry of the 2000s was no doubt the battle between the Patriots and the Colts. Or possibly more to the point, the rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Manning is considered by some (including the makers of this series) as the best of his era. But Brady has two more Super Bowl rings.
5. Coaching carousel
Famed coach Jerry Glanville was once quoted on NFL Films as saying the NFL stands for “not for long.” With 74 coaching changes prior to 2010, that certainly rang true. Sometimes, change was for the better, when Jon Gruden left the Raiders to win a title with the Buccaneers. And sometimes, there was Eric Mangini, who struggled just as mightily in Cleveland as he did in New York. But in fairness to Browns fans, the Mangini era might have been the heady years of the 2000s.
4. Patriots dynasty
The Patriots dynasty is one of the best things to happen in the decade. Wait, what? How did this make the list? Although, there is a case to be made for dynasties, which like rivalries, have made the NFL compelling through the years from the Canton Bulldogs in the 1920s to the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s. The Patriots went from Cinderella story after beating St. Louis in Super Bowl XXXVI, to a team that people loved to hate at the end of the decade, much like the Yankees and Celtics.
3. Talkative wideouts
NFL fans tend to complain about the likes of Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Carolina’s Steve Smith. But let’s be honest, the NFL simply would not be the same without them. The NFL has had some serious showmen at receiver over the years, from Billy “White Shoes” Johnson to Michael Irvin. But the 2000s seemed to go overboard with flamboyant receivers, and we the fans were the beneficiaries. Oh, and as an added bonus, the three guys mentioned could play a little bit, too.
2. Record breakers
Records were made to be broken, and that was certainly the case in the NFL during the 2000s. The two most iconic records fell during the decade, and no, we’re not talking about any of the Lions’ dubious marks. Emmitt Smith broke Walter Payton’s career rushing record, while Brett Favre set just about every passing record imaginable. While those stoic numbers fell, it seemed like every time you turned around, another running back was setting the single-season touchdown mark.
1. Close Super Bowls
Anybody who grew up in the 2000s cannot imagine a world without text messages, Facebook and “Glee.” Nor can they remember an era when the Super Bowl was not the best game of the season. But for children of the 1980s, a Super Bowl blowout was an indelible part of the decade as much as Air Jordans, Motley Crue and Ronald Reagan. But we should rejoice in this golden age of the Super Bowl. Even the blowouts of this decade would have been considered close by 1980s standards.
Don’t be shy, what do you love about the NFL?