Budding Dynasty Avoids Repeat

OK, calling this a dynasty is ridiculous at this point, but with Mike McCarthy, Ted Thompson and Aaron Rodgers locked up, all things are possible. We provide two history lessons to drive home that point in the wake of McCarthy's contract extension.

In today's NFL, the rules are set up to pull the bottom up and push the top down.

Look no further than the NFC, in which there hasn't been a repeat champion since the Green Bay Packers went back-to-back under Ron Wolf, Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre in 1996 and 1997.

Obviously, it would be an extreme overstatement to call this version of the Packers a budding dynasty. But at least the pieces are locked in place.

That fact was cemented on Friday when coach Mike McCarthy joined general manager Ted Thompson in signing contract extensions to keep them in their current posts through the 2015 season. With Aaron Rodgers merely 27 years old, the Packers are set up for long-term success unlike any team in the NFC in a long, long time.

Look at the recent champions. The 2009 Saints, with coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees (32 years old), clearly will be a challenger for the Packers for at least the next couple of years. The 2008 Cardinals are a mess since quarterback Kurt Warner retired. The 2007 Giants don't seem like a serious contender with coach Tom Coughlin and an undisciplined Eli Manning. The 2006 Bears somehow won with Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton. The 2005 Seahawks won with Matt Hasselbeck, who is over the hill, and never recovered from Thompson leaving to take over in Green Bay. The 2003 Panthers were one-hit wonders with Jake Delhomme. The 2002 Buccaneers were one-hit wonders with Brad Johnson.

You get the point.

The one club left off that list are the Philadelphia Eagles, who reached four consecutive NFC championships games from 2001 through 2004. It's a great parallel to the Packers. Like McCarthy, Andy Reid was entrenched as the Eagles' coach, and while he also was the football side's top decision-maker, Tom Heckert was his right-hand man in all things personnel. And at quarterback, Donovan McNabb was barely 25 when the Eagles advanced to the title game in 2001. That power trio stayed together through the 2009 season, when Reid jettisoned McNabb and Heckert joined Mike Holmgren in Cleveland.

Ah, yes, Mike Holmgren.

Holmgren coached the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XXXI and an NFC championship the following season. But when the Packers were stunned in the 1998 playoffs at San Francisco, Holmgren bolted for more power as all-things-football in Seattle.

Even with Wolf and Favre, the Packers' dynasty-in-the-making crumbled before it barely got off the ground.

Wolf replaced Holmgren with Ray Rhodes, a move that was a one-year disaster. Wolf stayed aboard for a couple more years before retiring at age 62 after helping the team run the 2001 draft. Mike Sherman, who Wolf chose as Rhodes' successor, was a pretty good coach but turned out to be a lousy GM when promoted to double duty.

Whether the Thompson-McCarthy-Rodgers Packers do what the Wolf-Holmgren-Favre Packers failed to do in adding a second championship, only the football gods know.

But at least there's a chance.

Good general managers are hard to find. The Packers have one.

Good head coaches are hard to find. The Packers have one.

Good quarterbacks are hard to find. The Packers have one.

As long as the 58-year-old Thompson doesn't fall in love again with golf, as long as McCarthy doesn't suddenly lust for more power and as long as Rodgers can stay healthy, the future looks exceedingly bright in Titletown.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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