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- 1The clear #1. They have 12 titles which leads all others, and honestly, how cool is this franchise? A team from a tiny town started by a bunch of working stiff meat packers? A team that is actually publicly-owned and run as a non-profit in this day and age? Amazing.
- 22nd in titles with 9, more wins than any other franchise, and one half of the greatest rivalry in pro football with the Packers. Chicago is the largest city in the country that arguably has football as its favorite sport.
- 3The Browns rank a very deserving #3. Crucial to that is their 8 titles, but there's some great history here too. The NFL was founded in Ohio in the 20s, and then the AAFC came about in the 40s with the Cleveland Browns as their flagship. When the two leagues merged, the Browns won the next NFL title, proving naysayers wrong and discrediting the notion that their AAFC titles weren't meaningful.
There's also the quirk of the owner of the Browns in the '90s deciding to move the team, and the community rising up and getting the deal arranged that the "Browns" would stay in Cleveland even if the owner moved his organization elsewhere. No team means more to their city than the Browns do to Cleveland, not even the Packers.
- 4The Giants have been around since the 20s, and have had great success. 7 titles and over 600 wins - as you'd expect being the surviving New York team from that era. Baseball fans may not realized that there actually were New York Yankee and Brooklyn Dodger football teams.
- 5The Cowboys' success is really quite stunning. They're often called "America's Team", and are consistently rated as the most valuable franchise in the NFL. This shouldn't have happen. The Cowboys are in Dallas, not New York or L.A. Teams from Dallas in other sports are basically irrelevant, yet this 60s era expansion team has caught hold of the nation's attention above teams from larger markets with longer histories. The 5 Super Bowl titles, and 8 total appearances are a big part of it, but the mystique goes deeper than that.
- 6With 6 Super Bowl wins, the Steelers have a great case as the top franchise of the past 40 years. Most don't realize that in the preceding 30+ years of the franchise, the Steelers played only 1 playoff game and lost it in a blowout. Very interesting for a team many think of as a traditional power.
- 7Another power house with great tradition back to the 30s. With 5 titles, and 5 Super Bowl appearances, there's really no way you can rate the history and not have the Skins as one of the important teams.
- 8The other surviving member of the '40s AAFC. They didn't have the immediate jawdropping success that the Browns did, but when I was growing up, the 49ers were THE team. Bill Walsh architected the greatest dynasty of the Super Bowl era and did so it flamboyant fashion.