There are more teams in the NFL that have repeated as Super Bowl champions than there are teams without an appearance on the NFL’s biggest stage.
But, why does it still seem like such a massive feat to take home the Lombardi Trophy two years in a row?
After the dust settled following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl LV win against the Kansas City Chiefs, fans immediately shifted focus to the next season and wondered if Tom Brady and the Bucs’ laundry list of returning starters are good enough to do it all again.
The reigning Super Bowl LV champions certainly seem to have the pieces in place to run it back. But, if the league’s illustrious history is any indication, then the odds don’t seem to be in their favor.
Only seven franchises in NFL history have ever won back-to-back Super Bowls:
- The Green Bay Packers in 1966-1967
- The Miami Dolphins in 1972-1973
- The Pittsburgh Steelers the following two years in 1974-1975, and again in 1978-1979
- The San Francisco 49ers in 1988-1989
- The Dallas Cowboys in 1992-1993
- The Denver Broncos in 1997-1998
- The New England Patriots in 2003-2004
The Steelers are the only team to do it twice, and they’re also the only team in league history with four Super Bowl wins in the span of six seasons.
Two of those other teams, the Cowboys and Patriots, are the only franchises to win three Super Bowls in the span of four seasons.
So, statistically, that all may seem like a lot, right? Seven out of the league’s 32 teams, equaling out to about 21 percent? Think about the start dates for some of the teams founded as a result of expansion, and everything seems golden, ponyboy.
But, the bigger picture tells a whole different story, which happens to look a bit less exciting for fans in “Champa Bay.”
No franchise has gone back-to-back in 17 seasons. It’s only been done twice in wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin’s lives, a whopping 28 years for the former and 25 years for the latter.
Plus, there are so many other factors to consider. Yes, repeats have happened eight times in the league’s history. But, think about the amount of times teams have made it all the way back to the Super Bowl scene, only to come up short in their hopes for a second title.
The Patriots, the last team to pull off a repeat and the most recent to play in consecutive Super Bowls, know the pain all too well. After winning an instant classic in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks, they lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship the following season.
A year later, they came back to win Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, and then lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII one season after that.
That’s not enough for you? The Patriots kept pushing on, and managed to win Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams. Fast forward one more year, and they didn’t even advance out of the Wild Card round.
Who was under center for each of those runs? Current Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
Plenty of teams have experienced similar fates after a Super Bowl win. Since 2000, only four times has the team that won the Super Bowl even appeared in the big game the following year, with the Patriots’ back-to-back campaign from 2003-2004 counting for one of them.
Since 2010? It’s happened three times.
The 1990s were more favorable to those Super Bowl winners, with the Cowboys and Broncos both pulling off repeats throughout the decade. The Packers appeared in the Super Bowl a year after their win in the 1996 season, but lost the following year.
Keep in mind, that is only accounting for teams even fortunate enough to make it to the Super Bowl after a win. Just a total of seven occurrences since 1990.
Now, factor in the performances of every Super Bowl winning team in the last decade after their victory.
- 2010: Packers win Super Bowl XLV, lose in the Divisional Playoffs the next year
- 2011: Giants win Super Bowl XLVI, do not qualify for the playoffs the next year
- 2012: Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII, do not qualify for the playoffs the next year
- 2013: Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII, lose in Super Bowl XLIX the next year
- 2014: Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX, lose in the AFC Championship the next year
- 2015: Broncos win Super Bowl 50, do not qualify for the playoffs the next year
- 2016: Patriots win Super Bowl LI, lose in Super Bowl LII the next year
- 2017: Eagles win LII, lose in the Divisional Playoffs the next year
- 2018: Patriots win Super Bowl LIII, lose in a Wild Card game the next year
- 2019: Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV, lose in Super Bowl LV the next year
- 2020: Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV, ???
Three of the previous 10 Super Bowl winners didn’t even make the postseason the following year. Three teams didn’t even advance past the Divisional Playoffs that next season. One more didn’t qualify for the Super Bowl, and three found a way to make it back, but couldn’t get the job done.
Yes, you can argue that the circumstances are different.
If anyone can pull off the repeat, it’s the quarterback who was at the helm for the last team to do it: Brady with the 2003-2004 Patriots.
The fact that the Buccaneers returned each of their starters from their Super Bowl LV campaign doesn’t hurt either, though longevity throughout the entire year will be tougher as a result of the league’s first 17-game regular season.
Even with all of that considered, consistency is a tough thing to achieve in the NFL. Especially when the repeated result that teams are seeking is another run to a Super Bowl.
Just ask the team the Buccaneers beat in Super Bowl LV last year, which had to wait 50 years after their win in Super Bowl IV to bring another trophy back to Kansas City.
The talent on the field may be the same, and the head coach on the sidelines hasn’t changed, either. Add in the energy in Tampa Bay after their NHL team’s own repeat in 2021, and it seems like a perfect storm.
But, Father Time generally tells all, and history shows that it’s going to be a lot harder for Brady and the Buccaneers to repeat what they did in 2020 as they search for another Super Bowl title in 2021.