The 2011 New York Giants tilted the NFL on its axis. Ever since the institution of the salary cap in 1994, the league had always been defined by the shifting sands created by its parity. But the playoffs and a 16-game regular season had done a good job weeding out of the riffraff. There might’ve been new and surprising Super Bowl champs on occasion, but the trophy ceremony always made sense. Parity with purpose, or so it seemed.
The Giants changed the paradigm in 2011. They were exceedingly mediocre throughout the regular season, and they made the playoffs despite a 6-6 record with four games left. They squeaked into the postseason mixer with a 9-7 mark and ended up winning the whole thing. It remains one of the feats of modern sports.
But it also raises a good question. Purely in terms of wins and losses, the Giants are the “worst” Super Bowl winner in history. Which means there’s never been a Super Bowl winner that finished the regular season at .500, let alone with a losing record. Even the league that flouts its parity above all other leagues, arguably the first in the world to hammer that nail with this kind of consistency and hard cap restriction, hasn’t been that much of a blender.
What about MLS?