Greatness transcends sports themselves. We watch (obsess) games hoping to catch glimpses of what is barely comprehensible to us as mere mortals. Wayne Gretzky, Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Joe Greene, these men did things we could not possibly do. The combination of youthful dreams of hearing our names screamed by tens of thousands after winning the big game meshes with the excitement of seeing "our" teams and players win makes us feel a part of greatness.
The concept of greatness is different to each of us and it changes from generation to generation. One constant is the current will never be as great as the past. Our stubbornness when it comes to moving into the modern times, perhaps.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James will never be as great as Jordan. Sidney Crosby will never be as great as Gretzky. Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis would have had to have hit 125 home runs last year to equal the distance between himself and second-place finisher Miguel Cabrera as Ruth did over George Sisler in home runs in 1920.
These are legends. And the gap between themselves and those in second place are astronomical.
What will it take for a coach to win four Super Bowls in a career? Chuck Noll did it in six years. The closest, Bill Belichick of the Patriots, won three in four years, and has lost two Super Bowls since then. Nine seasons have passed since he won his last one.
In the Super Bowl era, no coach can sniff that. Belichick's three titles threaten's equaling the Emperor's four in a career, but outside of him, unless Joe Gibbs (three) comes out of retirement again, no one living will break it next season.
Scores of guys have two - Mike Shanahan is out of work now, Tom Coughlin can't be expected to hold the reins for too much longer in New York. The 49ers' legacy is split between Bill Walsh and George Seifert. Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells and Don Shula all made their impacts on the game - by impacts, I mean, they won with one team and never won anything with the Miami Dolphins.
None of them hold a candle to the level of dominance Noll showed the NFL in a six-year period of time. This is best displayed, perhaps, by the fact even Belichick coached somewhere else. So did Shula.
Noll is the only modern coach to appear worthy of inclusion with the likes of Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi, Paul Brown, George Halas and Guy Chamberlain - four or more championships with one team.
Only Papa Bear Halas and Noll did it over careers with the same team.
That's "greatness" in any generation, mostly because no current coach can even begin to boast that level of success.
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was hired in 2013 without ever having been an NFL head coach previously. For Bradley to duplicate Noll's success, the Jaguars would need to win 99 games over the next 10 years, compile a 13-2 playoff record, including four Super Bowl wins without losing one and five of those six seasons need to have at least one playoff win.
This isn't to say Bradley is incapable of doing that (he got his defensive coordinator job in Seattle from the recommendation of Monte Kiffin, who called him the "finest young coach he's ever seen"). But...he's not going to do that. Why? Because it's next to impossible. Wilt's 100 points in a game is next to impossible. Jordan's six Finals MVPs is next to impossible. Gretzky's 215 points in 1985-86 were impossible.
Maybe we never compare favorably the current over the past because those who set the bar in the past put it at a level even in rising above it, the past becomes stronger.
That's what Noll did. And those reaching for that mark will fall short for a very long time to come.