Winning Super Bowls is obviously the most important goal of any NFL team. Making the big game should receive recognition too, and no one's done that more often than the New England Patriots. Eight trips in all, the Patriots join the Steelers and the Cowboys has having played in the most ever, with just about half of every Super Bowl having had one of those three teams involved.
Since 2001, New England has reached the Super Bowl six times, which means they've at least made it that far that many times in a shorter time-span than any team in NFL history.
Multiple Super Bowl appearances in a specific era are always fascinating, and Steelers fans obviously know about that, having just witnessed Pittsburgh make it three times in six years from 2005-2010. And, of course, that was only the second-best run in franchise history, considering the Steelers reached the Super Bowl four times in six years in the 1970s.
The Dolphins streak of three in a row in the early 70s was quite impressive, as was Buffalo's run of four straight appearances in the early 1990s.
However, the Vikings of the late 60s and early 70s began the first sustained run of Super Bowl appearances, when they made it four times from 1969-1976. Unfortunately for Minnesota, the franchise never won any of them and hasn't made it back since Super Bowl XI in January of 1977.
Miami actually made it to two more Super Bowls in the early 80s, giving the Dolphins five trips in 14 seasons.
The Steel Curtain may have been all that stood in the way of those legendary Cowboys teams of the 70s from having the greatest dynasty in NFL history, but nevertheless, Dallas made it to a remarkable five Super Bowls in nine seasons from 1970-1978 (arguably the most concentrated run of Super Bowl success in league history). However, Tom Landry never could get his charges back to the Super Bowl under his watch, and America's Team wouldn't appear again until the early-90s under Jimmy Johnson.
Those Jerry Jones-owned Cowboys reached the Super Bowl three times in four years in the early 90s, and the Patriots started their current run by doing the same thing in the early 2000s.
The Broncos made six of their seven Super Bowl appearances during a 22 season span from 1977-1998. The 49ers made it to and won five Super Bowls from 1981-1994.
The Packers became the first franchise to make multiple-Super Bowl appearances, when they won the first two under legendary head coach Vince Lombardi in the 1960s.
But to repeat: No team has ever reached the Super Bowl six times in a 13 year span, like the Patriots have.
No, this New England team led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady isn't the greatest ever (the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since 2004). Overall, the Patriots have reached the Super Bowl a total of eight times in franchise history (tying the Steelers and Cowboys) but only have three titles so far. And even if New England defeats the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, that would only be a .500 winning-percentage, compared to the Steelers' .750 (six wins in eight trips) and the Cowboys' .625 (five wins in eight trips).
You could attribute the Patriots' success to several things--some good (Brady and Belichick); some bad (Spygate); some circumstantial (weak AFC East)--but regardless of the reasons, in the salary cap and free agency era that's existed since the early 90s, remaining competitive is hard enough; staying on top is even harder.
If you're a Patriots fan, and you were six or seven years old in 2001 (the age most kids begin to follow sports), that means you've witness your team make the Super Bowl almost every other season since you started to have a vested interest.
That's quite the memorable era you've got going. Cherish it because it's something that may never happen again in the NFL.
Or at least for your favorite team.