BREAKING: Conference championships during the Brady years!


Sports bureau swings into action:
Over the weekend, we gave our little-used sports bureau permission to swing into action.

Yesterday, the New England Patriots won their eighth AFC championship during the Tom Brady years. The Patriots thereby won their eighth trip to the Super Bowl during this ballyhooed period.

Eight championships sounds like a lot. But just how big a deal is that? We decided to develop the information.

This is Brady's sixteenth year as Patriots' starting quarterback. (We're excluding the 2008 season, which Brady sat out with an injury.)

How many conference championships have the sixteen different AFC teams won in those sixteen seasons? Frankly, we'd never seen the data. The numbers turned out like this:
AFC championships in the sixteen Brady seasons:
Patriots: 8
Steelers: 2
Colts: 2
Broncos: 2
Ravens: 1
Raiders: 1
Oof. Viewed in that light, eight Super Bowl trips really do look like a lot. (The Steelers won the AFC in 2008, Brady's sabbatical season. They've gone to the Super Bowl three times in the past seventeen seasons.)

The Patriots stand out even more if you consider the numbers from the NFC. The NFL system is designed to create "parity" among its 32 teams—to make dynasties or near-dynasties impossible. Excluding the Patriots, the system has worked amazingly well:
NFC championships in the past seventeen seasons:
Seahawks: 3
Panthers: 2
Eagles: 2
Giants: 2
Rams: 1
Bucs: 1
Bears: 1
Cardinals: 1
Saints: 1
Packers: 1
49ers: 1
Falcons: 1
That covers the past seventeen seasons, right through yesterday's win by the Eagles. Twelve of the NFC's sixteen teams have gone to the Super Bowl during that period.

How thorough has the "parity" been in the NFC? This thorough—from the 2001 season through the 2010 season, ten different teams won the NFC championship in those ten consecutive years! The NFL system has been designed to produce such results. The Patriots have queered the deal.

As it turned out, those were the statistics we'd never seen in print. Meanwhile, don't get us wrong—the Patriots are no UCLA!

Pending next month's result, the Pats have won the Super Bowl only five times during this period. From 1964 through 1975, Coach Wooden's charges won ten NCAA basketball championships in twelve years. The moral is clear:

If you teach your players how to put on their shoes and socks, everything else will fall into place. AFC coaches, listen up good:

Teach your linemen well!


  1. Teach your players to put on their shoes and socks and have a corrupt athletic director and booster program.

  2. It's shocking! shocking! that Somerby posts about a trivial topic like sports, while those 48,000 Detroit kids suffer.

  3. Yes, Johnny Wooden's record is incredible. But, he had one advantage that the Patriots don't have. Once UCLA got going, the best high school basketball players wanted to go to UCLA. OTOH the Patriots suffered due to drafting last.

    1. Dang, Bob’s sports bureau seems to have quite a trove of links! I actually paid a premium to PBS for a Wooden DVD after watching a show on him, so impressed was I. Your comment about the NFL draft v UCLA recruitment is well-taken. New England veterans would go nowhere else, of course, but it must mean something that Belichik has succeeded despite that presumed handicap. He seems to have learned a lot since his time with the Browns, my favorite team.

      Don’t start.


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