As the Giants prepare for mathematical elimination from the playoffs -- a reality that is now virtually inevitable and one that could even hit them as quickly as this coming weekend -- it's worth noting that we aren't witnessing just another disappointing season.
What we have here is the NFL's most precipitous fall from grace in over 40 years and perhaps the most dramatic decline ever.
It's well documented that teams will sometimes win a Super Bowl and miss the playoffs the following season. That's happened 15 times in the Super Bowl era, and could happen a 16th time this year if the Seahawks fail to make it in (if the season ended today, they would be out). And sometimes teams win a Super Bowl and miss the playoffs the next two seasons. That's happened seven times in the Super Bowl era, including to the Giants after their 1986 and 1990 titles and, counting last year, after their 2011 championship.
But this is where the Giants are on the verge of history. Only one team has ever won a Super Bowl and then missed the playoffs in each of the following three seasons. That would be the Packers, who, after winning it all in 1967, wound up missing for four straight seasons.
The Giants are about to join that club. When they are officially eliminated in the coming days or weeks, they will become just the second team ever to go from the Super Bowl to three straight years without making the playoffs. From the penthouse to the you-know-what with three flushes.
You could even make the case that the Giants' plummet is worse than the Packers' was, even though it will be a year shorter (look out, 2015!). In 1968 and 1969 there were no wild cards. In 1970 and 1971, the years after the merger, there was just one wild card. And the Packers lost their head coach -- you remember, the guy whose lent his name to the Super Bowl trophy? Vince Lombardi? -- after that 1967 title. The Giants are missing the playoffs in an era when there are two wild card spots for them to aim at besides the division title and playing in a division with just four teams. And they have the consistency of having the same head coach and quarterback from the Super Bowl team.
So yes, this Giants season is disheartening and disappointing and you might even say disgusting. But when you look at the last four seasons combined, it's also historic.
Super Bowl champs who missed the playoffs in the years following their title:
Year -- Champion -- Missed Playoffs
2012 -- Ravens -- 2013
2011 -- Giants -- 2012, 2013, (2014?)
2008 -- Steelers -- 2009
2005 -- Steelers -- 2006
2002 -- Buccaneers -- 2003, 2004
2001 -- Patriots -- 2002
1998 -- Broncos -- 1999
1990 -- Giants -- 1991, 1992
1987 -- Redskins -- 1988, 1989
1986 -- Giants -- 1987, 1988
1981 -- 49ers -- 1982
1980 -- Raiders -- 1981
1979 -- Steelers -- 1980, 1981
1969 -- Chiefs -- 1970
1968 -- Packers -- 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971