Front-office gurus & shrewd owners shaped the future of the NFL, while revolutionary defenses and offenses came alive.
Super Bowl: Building Champions
With player salaries and free agency ballooning the price tag of veteran players almost every day, the NFL Draft gained a new importance to general managers around the NFL. Draft picks quickly became the equivalent of gold to front-office personnel, and the ability to acquire them and use them well would steer franchises to the Super Bowl. Teams like the Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, and Green Bay Packers would build elite franchises with the youth of the NFL.
Super Bowl: The Big Tuna
No head of a franchise exemplified building through the NFL Draft more than New York Giants coach Bill Parcells. An innovator of defense and teambuilding, disciples of Bill Parcells like Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin would go on to win Super Bowls of their own. In 1991, the fearsome defense of the New York Giants went up against perhaps the most talented team in football, the Buffalo Bills, in Super Bowl XXV. Coaching schemes won over pure talent with the New York Giants taking the victory 20-19 after a last-second missed field goal.
Super Bowl: Buffalo Bills Record
The Buffalo Bills would be one of the biggest stories in the NFL in the 1990s. Loaded with talent like QB Jim Kelly, DE Bruce Smith, and RB Thurmond Thomas, the Buffalo Bills were a great team built through the NFL Draft. They would make history by reaching four-consecutive Super Bowls. Unfortunately for Buffalo Bills fans with Super Bowl tickets, their team would make even more history by losing all of them. This streak would overshadow the many great careers of the Buffalo Bills players and coaches.
Super Bowl: Joe Gibbs
Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs had won two Super Bowls for the franchise in the 1980s and had supplemented his veteran corps of players like WR Art Monk with a good collection of young talent. The Washington Redskins rode their elite "Hogs" offensive line into Super Bowl XXVI to face the Buffalo Bills. The two elite defenses exchanged blows and had a scoreless first quarter before the power run of the Washington Redskins overwhelmed the Buffalo Bills from the second quarter on. The Super Bowl win got Coach Joe Gibbs into the Hall of Fame.
Super Bowl: Dallas Triplets
Building a team through the NFL Draft was never executed better than the Dallas Cowboys. Through a lopsided trade involving great running back Herschel Walker, head coach Jimmy Johnson secured a plethora of draft picks, which he used to build the Dallas Cowboys from jokes to America's Team. These picks were used to create a stellar offensive line but were also used to snag QB Troy Aikman and RB Emmitt Smith, who joined WR Michael Irvin to form the biggest group of stars in the 1990s, the "Triplets".
With a Hollywood style and a gun fighter's swagger, the Dallas Cowboys became the most popular football team on the planet as they crushed any team put before them. The conquest of the NFL was vindication for a decade of mediocrity and every opponent felt the sting. In Super Bowl XXVIII, the Triplets drowned the Buffalo Bills in a sea of offense in a woodshed-quality 52-17 beating. Fans with Super Bowl tickets were treated to a rematch in Super Bowl XXVIII that saw America's team bully the Buffalo Bills 30-13.
Super Bowl: Steve Young
The Dallas Cowboys were shaken up as head coach Jimmy Johnson resigned after the second Super Bowl win. This opened the door for 1980s dynasty, the San Francisco 49ers, to take the top prize. The vaunted West Coast offense was still in place, and WR Jerry Rice was the primary target. Joe Montana had left, but QB Steve Young was a mobile replacement who would eventually reach the Hall of Fame. The San Francisco 49ers made history at Super Bowl XXIX where they won their fifth Super Bowl trophy easily over the Cinderella San Diego Chargers.
Super Bowl: America's Team
The addition of free-agent cornerback Deon Sanders was the move needed to get the Dallas Cowboys back to the Super Bowl. With Coach Barry Switzer at the helm, the Triplets provided the offensive firepower to force opponents to try and catch up, letting Deon Sanders and the elite secondary feast on turnovers. Super Bowl XXX saw the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers meet to determine who would get their fifth Super Bowl Championship. Defense was the name of the game, and this situation surprisingly went in favor of the Dallas Cowboys.
Super Bowl: Brett Favre
Wily quarterback Brett Favre had the Green Bay Packers on the verge of the Super Bowl in several seasons but came up just short several times. With Coach Mike Holmgren in command and legendary DE Reggie White anchoring the defense, the boys of Lambeau made it to Super Bowl XXXI, where they would face Coach Bill Parcells and the New England Patriots. Fans with Super Bowl tickets were dazzled by the effort of kick returner Desmond Howard, whose clutch returns tipped the close contest in favor of the Green Bay Packers, their third Lombardi Trophy.
Super Bowl: The Way of Elway
No one felt the pain of Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly like Denver Broncos QB John Elway. The great quarterback had been to the Super Bowl twice in the 1980s and was embarrassed both times in defeat. Nearing the end of his career, John Elway needed a Super Bowl ring for both his personal glory and that of the Denver Broncos. The salvation of the Denver Broncos would come in the zone-blocking run scheme of coordinator Alex Gibbs and the emergence of running back Terrell Davis, and Denver Broncos fans could buy Super Bowl tickets to see No. 7 bring home a ring.
With veteran targets like Shannon Sharp and Rob Smith, John Elway was able to lead the Denver Broncos from the Wild Card round to Super Bowl XXXII. Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers were hungry for a repeat victory, but the Denver Broncos zone blocking cut through the injured defensive line and got John Elway the Super Bowl victory. The 15-year veteran did not retire, however, and led the Denver Broncos to their second Super Bowl victory a year later; No. 7 would become a legend in the Rocky Mountains.