After NFL.com allowed me to unveil my 10 favorite players -- a list nobody was begging for -- it's time to continue this vanity-laden travelogue without pause.
Up next: This typist's 10 favorite teams of all time.
I thought on this for at least an hour and came up with a list of squads that brought me some measure of delight -- in some cases perverse. I've named a handful of juggernauts, but if you're looking for an exclusive rundown of Super Bowl champions, you've clicked into the wrong room.
I like my teams flawed and messy and with the potential to become something greater.
NOTE: The win-loss record listed for each team includes postseason results.
1989 San Francisco 49ers
17-2, winners of Super Bowl XXIV
Living on the East Coast sans cable in the 1980s, West Coast teams felt pulled from an alien moon. I understood the Chargers and Raiders primarily through football cards and Sports Illustrated essays. The '89 Niners were different, though, often landing in the 4 p.m. late-game spot. A hideous Jets defeat would bleed into images of Roger Craig lashing defenses, massive-bodied fullback Tom Rathman blowing down doors and Charles Haley creating migraines for doomed opposing passers. Joe Montana found Jerry Rice (17) and John Taylor (10) for a combined 27 touchdowns inside a top-scoring Niners offense paired with a defense that allowed the third-fewest points league-wide.
I tend to root against outfits like this. It channels from the part of me that longed to see someone, at long last, strip Hulk Hogan of the WWF World Heavyweight Championship belt. This Niners team was different, though. It resembled an angry asteroid roaring into our atmosphere and scorching everything in sight. The 49ers' playoff run was nothing short of amplified destruction with San Francisco topping Minnesota 41-13 and the Rams 30-3 before scattering Denver 55-10 in the Super Bowl. I listened to that game in the back seat of a car driven by my friend's dad on the way home from a ski trip. Reception crackled in and out between chalky forest mountains. Every time the gravelly baritone voice of Jack Buck seeped through, the Niners had dropped another 10 points on the comprehensively squashed Broncos.
In short, the most dominant team I've ever laid eyes on.
1993 Dallas Cowboys
15-4, winners of Super Bowl XXVIII
While the '92 Cowboys rolled through autumn toward Super Bowl glory, their encore act hit choppy waters out of the gate. A thorny holdout by star back Emmitt Smith left Dallas 0-2 following ugly losses to the Redskins and Bills. The sour scent of crisis filled the air, but Emmitt returned just in time to help the 'Boys eke out a 17-10 win over Joe Bugel's Phoenix Cardinals in Week 3. The engine churned from there until a collapse in Atlanta was followed by a snowy Thanksgiving loss to Miami that left Dallas at 7-4. This set the table for a regular season finale at Giants Stadium with the Cowboys and G-Men both notched at 11-4. Making up for his two-game absence, Smith produced the most heroic game I've witnessed, ignoring the excruciating pain of a separated shoulder and bruised sternum to rumble through a proud Giants defense for 168 yards off 32 carries with another 61 yards and a touchdown off 10 grabs. The 16-13 win in overtime pushed the 'Boys back on course to run roughshod over a legion of NFC ham-and-egger postseason clubs before dispatching Buffalo all over again in the Super Bowl.
2011 Indianapolis Colts
2-14, fourth place in AFC South
This was the most conveniently terrible Colts team of all time. With Peyton Manning sidelined indefinitely after undergoing neck surgeries, Indy followed up nine consecutive double-digit-win campaigns by redefining inept on-field clownishness. I reveled in it as the combination of Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins oversaw an "attack" that squeezed out a mere 15.2 points per tilt, 28th worst in football, as the Colts opened 0-13. Zooming toward the first overall pick, Orlovsky nearly messed the entire thing up by throwing for 82 yards and a score in a 27-13 win over the Titans. One week later, Danny O put the tank job in jeopardy with a 244-yard outburst packed inside a 19-16 win over the Texans. Luckily, the Colts collapsed in Week 17, finishing tied with St. Louis at 2-14 for the worst record in football. The tie-breaker went to Indy and Andrew Luck became a Colt three months later. Too close for comfort, though, Mr. Orlovsky.
1994 Cleveland Browns
12-6, lost in Divisional Round
It's been slim pickings since Y2K for this self-confessed Browns fan. I still wonder what might have been for a feisty mid-90s Cleveland roster with Bill Belichick at coach and Ozzie Newsome in the front office had the team not scandalously darted to Baltimore. Maybe a spicy blending of what the Patriots and Ravens have churned out over the past two decades? We'll never know, but Belichick's '94 Browns were a hit, armed with a white-knuckle defense that gave up a league-low 12.8 points per game. The offense endured its struggles with Vinny Testaverde throwing 16 touchdowns and 18 picks on the year while leaning on Leroy Hoard and Eric Metcalf out of the backfield. The Browns surged to 9-3 and produced a somewhat shocking nationally televised win over the Cowboys in Week 15. A bitter loss to the Steelers in Week 16 prevented Cleveland from winning the AFC Central, but glory arrived on New Year's Day 1995 when Belichick's Browns topped Bill Parcells and his Drew Bledsoe-led Patriots, 20-13, in the Wild Card Round. Vinny and the boys were crushed by the Steelers the following week and, one season later, Cleveland fans were dropped into total darkness when owner Art Modell announced he was moving the storied franchise to Baltimore. The Browns have not won a playoff game since.
1995 San Diego Chargers
9-8, lost in Wild Card Round
Talk about a Super Bowl hangover. One season after their glory run ended in calamity against Steve Young and the Niners, the Bolts looked lost for good after a three-game November skid left the team on life support at 4-7. Quarterback Stan Humphries and friends caught fire from there, ripping off victories over the Raiders, Browns, Cardinals, Colts and Giants to finish 9-7 and zoom into the playoffs as one of the decade's great comeback tales. Dudes like Natrone Means, Ronnie Harmon and Alfred Pupunu fueled the offense while all-world linebacker Junior Seau operated as a rainmaker from wire to wire. I loved watching Bobby Ross go through every possible emotion on the sideline, but the coach's luck ran out in the Wild Card Round when the feel-good Chargers ran into an even bigger Cinderella story: Jim Harbaugh's Colts, an upstart collection of mostly no-namers who nearly upset the Steelers two weeks later in the AFC title game.
2001 New England Patriots
14-5, winners of Super Bowl XXXVI
There was a time in human history when Tom Brady was a fill-in starter at quarterback, Belichick was still seen as a questionable hire by Robert Kraft and the Patriots were nothing special. Coming off a rough 5-11 debut campaign in 2000, Belichick felt like hot-seat material in Year 2 when New England opened 1-3. Still milquetoast at 5-5, Brady and crew ripped off six straight wins to take the AFC East at 11-5. Two weeks later, Earth became intimately familiar with the Tuck Rule as New England dispatched a beside-themselves Oakland team in flurry-filled Foxborough.
One week later in the AFC title game against Pittsburgh, Patriots fans still sore about Drew Bledsoe's injury-turned-benching had one final golden moment when the veteran replaced a banged-up TB12 with 1:40 left in the first half. Bledsoe was electric in hitting his first two passes before whipping a touchdown dart to David Patten to put New England up 14-3 at intermission. The Patriots never looked back, knocking off Pittsburgh 24-17 before pulling off a titanic Super Bowl upset over Kurt Warner and the Rams. Seen by many today as the Evil Empire, that wasn't the vibe when this plucky, surprise roster pulled off the improbable.
1990 New York Giants
16-3, winners of Super Bowl XXV
The final run for Bill Parcells with the Giants. Belichick, too, who would leave the G-Men to become Cleveland's coach after a drama-drenched 20-19 Super Bowl win over Buffalo. I've written previously about the fascinating NFC title game topping of San Francisco that catapulted the Giants onto the big stage. The Super Bowl played out in surreal fashion with Operation Desert Storm launching 10 days prior. For many, the game itself -- opening with Whitney Houston's pristine national anthem -- was a break from 24/7 tracking of CNN, although Al Michaels repeatedly cut away for news briefings from ABC anchor Peter Jennings. Super Bowl XXV was many things: the first of its kind without a turnover; a black-and-blue, smothering defensive grudge match; and forever remembered for Scott Norwood's 47-yard game-winning field goal try for Buffalo flittering wide right. What grabs me, though, is the improbable scenario of Giants backup passer Jeff Hostetler throwing for more yards than Jim Kelly. Turns out this brand of wizardry is not exclusive to Nick Foles and his cadre of Philly Special architects.
1989 Green Bay Packers
10-6, second place in NFC Central
Full disclosure: I don't harbor countless memories of this Packers team. The New York-based NBC and CBS outfits occupying my boob tube rarely cut away to adventures out of Green Bay. As the '89 season revealed itself, though, every Sunday seemed to end with Don Majkowski finding Sterling Sharpe for a last-second, game-sealing score. Hailed as the "Magic Man," Majkowski can be viewed as an almost John The Baptist-like figure, foretelling the wonders of Brett Favre. They offered a similar dash of flair, but Green Bay's dramatic campaign lacked justice. The Packers' 10 wins were the club's most since 1972, but not enough to sneak into the playoffs.
1997 Denver Broncos
16-4, winners of Super Bowl XXXII
It's more than John Elway's chain-moving helicopter scramble that set the table for Denver to break a 17-17 tie with Green Bay en route to a 31-24 Super Bowl win. It was clear Mike Shanahan's Broncos were headed for high places. The offense averaged nearly 32 points per tilt during a 6-0 start and never looked back in scoring a league-best 472 on the year. What some forget is that Denver, a healthy 12-4, didn't win its own division. The title went to the 13-3 Chiefs, forcing Elway and Co. into a playoff rematch with the Jaguars. The season prior, Jacksonville -- in the franchise's second-ever campaign -- thumbed its nose at the deep state with a 30-27 win over the 13-win Broncos. The second time around, Denver wouldn't be tricked as Terrell Davis put the game out of question with two touchdowns in the first quarter-plus to help the Broncos forge a 21-0 lead. T.D.'s 184 yards off 31 carries were more than Jacksonville could handle in a 42-17 drubbing. It was just the first act of revenge for a Denver team that would unplug Kansas City the next week on the road to Elway's long-awaited Super Bowl moment. Say it with me: "This one's ... for John."
2009 New York Jets
11-8, lost AFC Championship Game
I'm no Jets fan, but Year 1 of Rex Ryan in New York was packed with intrigue. Unmoved by the Patriots, the first-time head coach talked openly about knocking around the Foxborough bunch and taking the AFC East by storm. That wasn't the case at 4-6, but Gang Green awoke thanks to a smothering, Darrelle Revis-led defense and an offense determined to tire teams out on the ground. Averaging 186 rushing yards per tilt from Thanksgiving on, the Jets won five of their last six, including a 37-0 Week 17 destruction of the Bengals, who rested starters ahead of the postseason. Cincy's first string returned one week later in the Wild Card Round and was systematically plowed by a New York offense that ran for 171 yards and a defense that held Carson Palmer to 146 yards through the air. In San Diego the following week, the two-man backfield of Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones smashed into the Bolts 37 times for a bushel of yardage to carve out a 17-14 win. The party came to a halt one week later against Indy in the AFC title game, but the Jets were nothing short of engaging.
Side note: I've also realized through this (arguably meaningless) exercise that -- outside of those '89 Niners and a handful of others -- I lean toward run-heavy, scrappy and sometimes strange squads. How entirely unfashionable.
Honorable mention: 1998 Minnesota Vikings, 1987 Cleveland Browns, 2013 Seattle Seahawks, 2007 New England Patriots, 2007 New York Giants, 2010 Seattle Seahawks.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @marcsessler.