Vernon Davis SF 49ers wooooooDynasty. It’s one of the most volatile words in team sports, and good luck finding a consensus on the correct definition. Vernon Davis used it in regards to his team’s greatest rival yesterday, so of course it caused offseason ripples, if not a full-fledged wave.

On the NFC West:

“I think it is a great division. You have a team like Seattle who is coming up. They are building a dynasty over there. They have some good players over there who are eager to win. These guys are starving. We have to really keep that in mind because these guys are coming to take us out. I respect them, just like I respect my team, but we want to win too. We are in it to win. We don’t want to lose, especially after last year. We get all the way to the Super Bowl [and] lose the game.  We have to really take it upon our responsibility and put it all out there and play each game like it is our last game.”

Even though he said the Seahawks are building a dynasty and haven’t reached that status just yet, people shook their heads. SMH, some wrote. SMDH, wrote fans who were even more upset. Vernon may not have realized it, but in using the d-word he was toying with people’s emotions.

The Seahawks have made the playoffs the same number of times in the last three years as the 49ers, but they have yet to reach the NFC Championship Game with their current group. And some believe the term should be saved for the teams that win a ridiculous number of championships in a pretty small window. For instance, a couple weeks ago I saw someone retweet a guy who didn’t appreciate how “dynasty” is thrown around so freely these days, and that to be truly dynastic a team needs to win at least five titles in a decade. That would leave these teams as the only dynasties in the major North American professional sports leagues:

  • 1940s Toronto Maple Leafs
  • 1950s Montreal Canadiens
  • 1960s Montreal Canadiens
  • 1970s Montreal Canadiens (notice a trend?)
  • 1960s Boston Celtics
  • 1980s Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1990s Chicago Bulls
  • 1930s New York Yankees
  • 1950s New York Yankees

The list expands slightly if you allow teams in who won five championships in any 10-year span, but the point remains: some people have a really strict definition of what teams can be considered true dynasties.

Davis mentioning “Seattle Seahawks” and “dynasty” in the same response doesn’t mean a whole lot, because (1) it’s one man’s opinion and (2) we don’t know Davis’ personal definition. Davis may consider any team that reaches the playoffs for several years in a row to be a dynasty, and by that standard Seattle could be well on their way. Most people probably fit into a spot between “hey, this team has thrown together several winning seasons in a row” and the five-titles-in-a-decade definition mentioned earlier. With turnover as high as it is in most leagues, most (but not all) would probably agree that three titles in five years fits the bill.

What’s funny (at least to me) is how people intensely protect the meaning of the word. “Dynasties aren’t what they used to be, kiddo. Back in my day you couldn’t just get a team together with your buddies, win two or three rings in a row and call yourself a dynasty like them Heat over there in Miami. The label of dynasty must be EARNED!”

“Dynasty” engenders an emotional response without much thought or reason. That’s why it’s such a great and easy topic for lazy sports talk hosts.

Here’s the thing — Jay-Z already destroyed whatever strict definition anyone had when he released Dynasty: Roc La Familia back on Halloween of 2000. Not that it’s a bad album, and I guess Beanie Sigel had a decent career, at least in terms of critical acclaim … but if Memphis Bleek and Amil can be two cornerstones of a dynasty, the Seahawks might already be a dynasty now.

(On that note, how has Richard Sherman not released a rap album yet? The guy is brash, loves attention and has a lot to say. Seems like the logical progression for him.)

One last thing worth noting: while the Seahawks make news with quotes about how they want to hurt Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers’ first public response was to pay Seattle a massive compliment. That’s a reason why Vernon had no chance of making the list of 49ers who’d be the first to tell the world they want to lay out Pete Carroll, because he’d rather kill the 49ers’ NFC West foes with kindness. It doesn’t exactly mesh with how this rivalry has gone over the past couple years, but as long as he catches a few touchdowns and gets revenge for the hit Kam Chancellor put on him last year, the 49ers won’t mind that Davis bestowed the dynasty label upon Seahawks a little prematurely.