Super Bowl Virgins
The rise of parity in the NFL has resulted in a number of NFL teams punching their first-ever tickets to the game's biggest stage over the past few years. Among the recent first-timers include the Panthers (2004), Buccaneers (2003), Falcons (1999) and Chargers (1995). This year's team hoping to break the seal on their Super Bowl dreams are the Seattle Seahawks, who entered the league in 1976, the same year as Tampa Bay.
In fact the two NFL Conference games offer a stark contrast in terms of historical success. In the AFC Championship game, the Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to the Denver Broncos. Pittsburgh has been to 5 Super Bowls, winning 4 of them, only losing back in 1996 to the Dallas Cowboys. The Denver Broncos have been to 6 Super Bowls but have only won two, losing in 1978, 1987, 1988 and 1990 before finally winning back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999.
In the NFC, the Carolina Panthers will travel to the Seattle Seahawks. As mentioned, Seattle has never been to the Super Bowl in their 29 years of existence. In fact, I didn't even know Seattle had a football team until this year. OK, I'm exaggerating, but the Seahawks have had a pretty bland history. Their all-time record of 230-248 pretty much tells the story of a team not known for being either very bad or very good. The Carolina Panthers, on the other hand, have already been to one Super Bowl and are entering their 3rd NFC Championship game despite only having been in existence since 1995. Despite losing on a last-second field goal in Super Bowl XXXVIII to the New England Patriots, it is safe to say that Carolina's greatest contribution to the NFL so far is still the Top Cats.
Frankly, it ticks me off that a team like Carolina can come in the league and get to the Super Bowl in less than 10 years while my Detroit Lions have been in the NFL since 1934 and have never been to a single Super Bowl. Only the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles have been in the same city longer than the Lions, and each of those teams have been to the Super Bowl. While the Lions do have 4 NFL Championships, they have not played for a title since winning it all in 1957. Now THAT is futility.