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List of NFL nicknames

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Title: List of NFL nicknames  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Washington Redskins, Nicknames in sports, The Fun Bunch, The Over-the-Hill Gang (American football), Art Monk
Collection: National Football League Lists, Nicknames in Sports
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

List of NFL nicknames

The following are nicknames throughout the history of the NFL.


  • Teams 1
  • Players 2
  • Places 3
  • Fans 4
  • Rules named after NFL figures 5
  • Other 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Nicknames for entire teams, or whole offensive or defensive units.


Nicknames for individual players, or small groups of individual players.

Nickname Player(s) Description
A-Train[67] Mike Alstott How he was as difficult to tackle as a freight train; "A" is a reference to his surname initial
Ageless Wonder[68][69] Darrell Green His remarkable ability to maintain a high level of play during the latter years of his 20 year career.
All Day[70] or AD Adrian Peterson Given to him by his parents because he would run "all day"
Amish Rifle[71] Ryan Fitzpatrick Given to him by Buffalo Bills fans because of his scraggly beard during the 2010 NFL season.
Anytime[72] Devin Hester His ability to return kicks and punts for touchdowns any time. Inspired from his mentor Deion "Prime Time" Sanders.
The Assassin[73] Jack Tatum Given for his pure brutality.
Bad Moon[74] Andre Rison Given nickname by ESPN's Chris Berman in reference to CCR's song "Bad Moon Rising".
BallSoHard Terrell Suggs Suggs claims that the reason he plays so toughly and aggressively is because he went to BallSoHard University.
Ball Hawk Ed Reed Reed was always there to make a play on the ball (i.e. pass defense or interception).
Bambi[75] Lance Alworth For his speed, and his spectacular and graceful moves.
Beast Mode[76] Marshawn Lynch He used this term to describe himself during an interview. Afterward fans continued to use the term.
Big Ben[77] Ben Roethlisberger His imposing size, a nod to the large clock on the Elizabeth Tower in London
Big Game[78] Torry Holt Goes back to his college career at North Carolina State when he had great performances in games such as against No. 2 ranked Florida State Seminoles scoring two +60 yards touchdowns and thus helped stunning the Seminoles 24-7 for the program's biggest upset in 31 years. He also set Rookie Super Bowl Records for Receptions an Receiving yards in his first Super Bowl in the 1999 season, he also added a touchdown.
Big Daddy[79] Dan Wilkinson His 6'5", 340 lb frame
Big Snack[80] Casey Hampton Apparent reference to his large size and penchant for eating
Blind Side Michael Oher Oher's high school life was the inspiration for the book and film "The Blind Side."
Blonde Bomber[81] Terry Bradshaw His blond hair combined with his tendencies to throw the ball down the field, hence "bomber"
Boobie[82] Anthony Dixon The nickname comes from Boobie Miles, of Friday Night Lights fame, and was bestowed by his teammates in college.
Brickwall Ray Lewis Lewis had the ability to hit players very hard and often injured them. Many players compared one of Lewis's hits to the feeling of running into a brick wall.
Broadway Joe[83] Joe Namath Reference to the wide avenue that ran through New York—the city where he played QB with the New York Jets
Breesus[84] Drew Brees Play on Brees's last name and his perception as the savior of Saints Football.
Brian Crushing Brian Cushing Play on Cushing's last name and his hard-hitting tackles.
Bullet Bob[85] Bob Hayes Reference to his incredible speed. Won gold medal and set world record in the 100 m at 1964 Summer Olympics.
Burner[86] Michael Turner Given both because of his ability to break long runs and because it rhymes with his last name. Got the name in college.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid[87] Larry Csonka & Jim Kiick Miami Dolphins running back duo from 1968 to 1974; named after the movie about the famous outlaws.
Bus[88] Jerome Bettis Because of his ability to carry tacklers on his back like a "bus"
Cadillac[89] Carnell Williams A high school broadcaster at Etowah High School in Attalla, Alabama compared Williams' running to a luxury car.
Captain Checkdown[90] Trent Edwards Name given to quarterback Trent Edwards for his refusal to throw the deep ball, preferring instead to dump off to running backs or tight ends.
Captain Chaos[91] Chris Cooley Adapted from Dom DeLuise's character in The Cannonball Run; possibly due to shared initials.
Captain Comeback[92] Roger Staubach Name given to quarterback Roger Staubach during his career with the Dallas Cowboys during the 1970s for his ability to bring back his team from being down during important games. Also referred to as Captain America for his strong old fashioned beliefs likening him to the comic book hero.
C.C.[93] Cris Carter C.C. for Cris Carter, Was #2(130) in touchdown receptions when he retired. Best known for his one-handed, sideline circus catches. Was part of the 3-Deep threats along with Vikings teammate Randy Moss, and Jake Reed.
CJ2K, CJ2', CJ1K Chris Johnson CJ for Chris Johnson, 2K for his 2000-yard rushing season, 2 as a play on CJ2K and a reference to his poor performance towards the beginning of the 2011 season
Comeback Kid Joe Montana Nickname given to Joe Montana for leading the San Francisco 49ers in many great comebacks, even in desperate situation; such as a 28 point deficit.
Concrete Charlie[94] Chuck Bednarik Bednarik worked as a concrete salesman during the NFL's offseason and was known for his hard hits and persistent endurance.
Crazy Legs[95] Elroy Hirsch Named for his unusual running style.
Crystal Chandelier[96] Chris Chandler Was plagued by concussions and injuries, referencing his presumed fragility
Crunch Bunch[97] Harry Carson, Brian Kelley, Lawrence Taylor and Brad Van Pelt The 1981–83 New York Giants linebacking corps noted for their hard-hitting play and for generating many quarterback sacks, Taylor in particular. Mario Sestito of Troy, New York is credited with coining the name after a NY Giants newsletter at the time called 'Inside Football' held a contest to name this defensive unit.
Curtis "My Favorite" Martin[98] Curtis Martin Pun on the television show My Favorite Martian; bestowed by ESPN's Chris Berman
Deebo[99] James Harrison His similarity in appearance and demeanor to the character in the movie Friday played by Tom Lister, Jr.
Diesel[100] John Riggins Because of his powerback style of play—compared to a truck that ran on diesel.
Dr. Death[101] Skip Thomas Because of his physical tackling, and apparent resemblance to the cartoon character
Don't Cross The[102] Arthur Moats Name bestowed after Moats laid a clean, but particularly devastating hit on Brett Favre, ending Favre's streak of consecutive starts as well as leading to Favre's retirement at the end of the 2010 season. Moats are large trenches surrounding castles that served as a line of defense.
Double Trouble[103] DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart Carolina Panthers running back duo from 2008 to the present, previously known as Smash and Dash
Dump Truck[104] Najeh Davenport Allusion to an incident which allegedly occurred when he was in college as well as a take on one-time teammate Jerome Bettis' nickname, "The Bus"
Dwight Hicks and the Hot Licks[105] 1984 San Francisco 49ers defensive secondary led by Dwight Hicks
Dynamic Uno David Wilson His all-around skills at Running Back
Edge[106] Edgerrin James Shortening of his first name
Earth, Wind and Fire[107] Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward & Ahmad Bradshaw 2008 NY Giants running backs; Jacobs = Earth, Ward = Wind, Bradshaw = Fire
ELIte Eli Manning Play on his first name, Eli, and the word Elite. Used by New York Giants fans in reference to quarterback Eli Manning claiming that he considers himself in the same elite class of quarterbacks as Tom Brady during a preseason interview. Manning backed up this claim by beating Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI
The Face Cleaver Leonard Weaver
Fast Willie[108] Willie Parker His speed
Fatso[109] Art Donovan A reference to his large frame.
Fitz Larry Fitzgerald the Cardinal fans call their beloved all-time best just by the first four letters of his last name "Fitz".
Fitzmagic[110] Ryan Fitzpatrick His ability to turn around a long-struggling Buffalo Bills offensive attack after several years of mediocrity. It was later turned around to Fitztragic when his play, as well as the team's, declined.
Five-Head Peyton Manning Due to his prominent and very tall forehead.
Flash 80[111] Jerry Rice His stunning plays combined with his number, 80
The Flyin' Hawaiian[112] Troy Polamalu His style of diving into receivers and diving into pass paths for interception, and for Polamalu's Polynesian ancestry (Polamalu is in fact Samoan, but Hawaiian rhymes better)
Fragile Fred[113] Fred Taylor Perception of being injured constantly
Freak[114] Randy Moss His freakish athletic abilities
Freak[115] Jevon Kearse Combine stats off the charts for someone his size
FredEx Freddie Mitchell Because he "always delivered"
The Freezer[116] B.J. Raji A play off the nickname of William "The Refrigerator" Perry whom the Bears utilized in a similar manner during the 1980s. "Freezer" also alludes to the Packers home stadium, Lambeau Field, which is known for its freezing temperatures in December and February.
Fun Bunch[117] Early 1980s Washington Redskins wide receivers and tight ends This group's choreographed touchdown celebrations led to a league-wide ban of "excessive celebration" in 1984.
Galloping Ghost[118] Harold "Red" Grange Because no one could catch him
Genocide Gene Smith Because he shreds defenses.
Ghost (or "Space Ghost") Dave Casper After Casper the Friendly Ghost
Golden Boy Paul Hornung A reference to his blond hair and his alma mater, Notre Dame, with its gold helmets and the golden dome of the main building on the Notre Dame campus. Notre Dame students and alumni are also referred to as "Golden Domers".
Goose Tony Siragusa Given to him for his large size and big play as a defensive tackle.
The Gravedigger Gilbert Brown Earned nickname in honor of his celebratory dance following a thunderous tackle.
Golden Graham Jimmy Graham This is a play on his last name to refer to his all-star talent. Golden comes from the fact that the New Orleans Saints' secondary color is gold. He is also nicknamed this after his breakout 2011–2012 NFL Season at the tight end position with the New Orleans Saints.
The Grand Old Man George Blanda For playing till the age of 48, the oldest player ever in the NFL.
Greg The Leg Greg Zuerlein Reference to his ability to kick long Field Goals and also because "Leg" rhymes with his first name.
(The) Gronk[119][120] Rob Gronkowski Shortening of his last name which is Gronkowski. Also a play off of the Incredible Hulk due to Rob's size, power, and dominance.
The Gunslinger Brett Favre He earned this nickname for his intrepid attitude on the field, his legendary toughness and ability to come back from and play through injuries, and the fact that he threw bullet passes so hard he was known to break his receiver's fingers. The "gunslinger mentality" refers to Favre's tendency to fearlessly force throws to covered receivers, a high risk/high reward style of play.
Hacksaw Jack Reynolds Earned his nickname in 1969 by cutting an abandoned 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air in half with a hacksaw after his previously unbeaten University of Tennessee team returned from an embarrassing 38–0 road loss to Ole Miss.
The Hammer Jessie Tuggle Earned his nickname because of impact of hits he put on opposing ball carriers and QBs. Played his entire career with the Atlanta Falcons and was part of the 1998 "Dirty Birds" team.
He Hate Me Rod Smart Self-bestowed nickname Smart used on the back of his jersey during his time in the XFL. The nickname, which became a symbol of the XFL, stuck with Smart after he joined the NFL.
Hefty Lefty, Pillsbury Throwboy, The Round Mound of Touchdown, Jared Lorenzen His size and left-handed throwing motion
Hit and Run Thomas Jones and Leon Washington New York Jets running back duo from 2008 to 2009
The Honey Badger Tyrann Mathieu His ball instincts and his dyed blonde hair
The Hotel Flozell Adams His 6'7", 340-pound frame
The House Herman Johnson His 6'7", 386-pound frame
Housh T.J. Houshmandzadeh Play on the first syllable of his name.
Hogs[37] 1980s and early 1990s Washington Redskins offensive line Name first used by offensive line coach Joe Bugel during the team's 1982 training camp prior to winning Super Bowl XVII.
The Human Joystick Dante Hall Nickname given to him by coach Vermeil because of his big play ability in the return game
Inconvenient Truth Frank Gore Given by Rich Eisen: The Inconvenient truth was the name of former Vice President Al Gore's book/film
Iron Head Craig Heyward His hard-nosed straight-ahead, bruising running style.
Iron Mike Mike Ditka
J.J. Swatt J.J. Watt Used by multiple media outlets for his ability to tip passes at the line of scrimmage. Began towards the start of the 2012 NFL season.
Jake "daylight come and you gotta" Delhomme Jake Delhomme Used by Chris Berman, a play on Delhomme's name and the Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte.
January Joe Joe Flacco For Joe Flacco's excellent postseason performance especially when compared to his regular season play. It is also a play on the name of the actress January Jones.
Joe Cool Joe Montana & Joe Flacco Joe Montana's ability to remain calm in pressure situations earned him the nickname. It has been used for Joe Flacco for his cool demeanor, especially during the postseason.
Johnny Football Johnny Manziel QB for the Browns 2014–present. His first name is Johnny and he used to play football.
JPP Jason Pierre-Paul His initials
Juice O.J. Simpson Based on the initials of his first and middle name (OJ)
Juice [121] Le'Veon Bell Given to him by head coach Mike Tomlin during the 2014-2015 offseason.
Kaeptain America Colin Kaepernick Given for his athleticism and a play on his last name and Marvel superhero, Captain America
Kamtrak Kam Chancellor For his running and hitting, a play on his name and Amtrak
K.G.B. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila His initials
Kansas Comet[122] Gale Sayers "Kansas Comet" was stuck on him by the Director of Sports Information at the University of Kansas.
Kirk CousINTS Kirk Cousins When Cousins comes in to replace the struggling Robert Griffin III, he tends to not play well, which includes throwing many interceptions (i.e. INTS).
The Kitchen Nate Newton Since he was presumably larger than "The Fridge"
L.T. Lawrence Taylor His initials
LT LaDainian Tomlinson His initials
Law Firm BenJarvus Green-Ellis Play on the length of his full name and its resemblance to the name of a law firm
Legatron Greg Zuerlein His ability to kick long field goals; also a play on the Transformers character Megatron
Legion of Boom (Seattle Seahawks)/L.O.B Seahawks defensive backs (Richard Sherman/Kam Chancellor/Earl Thomas/Byron Maxwell) hard hitting nature of the Seahawks defensive backs. A play on the Legion of Doom, a team of comic book supervillains.
Lights Out Shawne Merriman Because of his reputation of being a hard hitter; has been shortened to "Lights" by teammates in interviews
Long Gone L.G. Dupre An alternate take on his initials, and a reference to his ability to run away from competitors
Machine Gun Kelly[123] Jim Kelly Jim Kelly was perhaps best known for running the Bills' "No-Huddle Offense", which was fast-paced and denied opposing defenses the opportunity to make timely substitutions, establishing the Buffalo Bills as one of the NFL's most successful and dangerous offenses. A reference to mobster .
The Mad Bomber Daryle Lamonica Lamonica tended to throw, or "bomb," the ball deep during unnecessary situations.
Mad Duck[124] Alex Karras Because of his short legs, he appeared to waddle like a duck.
Mad Stork Ted Hendricks Because of his 6'7" height.
Manning Face Peyton Manning and Eli Manning Due to the unique and humorous faces made by the brothers when frustrated.
Manster Randy White Half Man, Half Monster.
Marion the Barbarian[125] Marion Barber III Because of his physical running style and reputation for repeatedly breaking tackles
Marks Brothers[126] Mark Clayton and Mark Duper Prolific Miami Dolphins wide receiver duo of the 1980s who shared the same first name (also a reference to the Marx Brothers. They were also christened "Mark Twain.")
Matty Ice Matt Ryan In reference to Natural Ice or "Natty Ice", an adult beverage loved by bros across America.
Matty Ice Matt Scott This name was given to Matt Scott by the YouTube commentator cookieboy17. The name is a joke, because Matt Scott is known as a very bad quarterback in real life and has never even started a game. However, when cookieboy17 played with him in Madden NFL 25 he was a very good Madden player, and therefore gave Scott the nickname and would make many jokes about Scott being "the real Matty Ice," and Matt Ryan, who originally had the nickname, was the fake one.
Meast Sean Taylor Half Man, half beast
Megatron[127] Calvin Johnson A reference to his large frame, comparing him to a Transformers character
Mercury Eugene Morris
The Milkman JJ Watt
The Minister Of Defense Reginald Howard "Reggie" White A reference to his Christian ministry as an ordained Evangelical minister and his preferred position as a defensive end on the teams for which he played
Minitron[128] Julian Edelman While not many would draw comparisons between the diminutive Julian Edelman and the monstrous Calvin Johnson, Tom Brady did just that by giving Julian a new nickname: "Minitron"
Missile Qadry Ismail His speed (particularly as a kick returner), and also a play on his brother Raghib Ismail's nickname, Rocket
Mongo[129] Steve McMichael Taken from the character in the film Blazing Saddles, played by Alex Karras.
Moose[130] Daryl Johnston Given to him by Cowboys backup quarterback Babe Laufenberg for his blocking ability and opening holes for runningback Emmitt Smith.
The Mossiah Randy Moss The Savior for the Vikings. In his rookie year, Moss led the Vikings towards one of the most powerful offenses in the NFL.
MoJo/MJD Maurice Jones-Drew RB for the Raiders. Nickname was first used when he added his late grandfather's last name (Jones) to his original last name (Drew) out of respect. "Mo"—Maurice, "Jo"—Jones.
Mr. Rodgers Aaron Rodgers QB for the Packers 2008–present. His last name is a homonym of that of long-time children's television host Mister Rogers.
The Natural Andre Johnson WR for the Houston Texans. Nicknamed due to his incredible natural talent and his team colors.
Neon Deion Deion Sanders His flashy play and the rhyme with his first name
Nigerian Nightmare Christian Okoye To his homeland as well as to the difficulty he posed to defenses
Night Train Dick Lane Due to his fear of flying, Lane road a night train to away games while the rest of the team flew
Ocho Cinco[131] Chad Johnson Self-bestowed pidgin Spanish reference to his uniform number (85); originally named Chad Johnson, legally changed name to "Chad Ochocinco" in 2008 (changed back to Johnson in 2012). Also self-refers as "Esteban Ochocinco".
Papa Bear[132] George Halas The founding father of the Chicago Bears
Pick Magnet Darren Sharper Sharper intercepted many passes in his career, as if he was a magnet to the balls. This is also a play on the term chick magnet.
Playmaker[133] Michael Irvin For his ability to defeat tight coverage, even double coverage, and make big plays.; possibly self-bestowed
Pot Roast Knighton Terrance Knighton Him being a defensive lineman, he is named for his ability to break through the opposing offensive line and sack their quarterback.
Pocket Hercules Maurice Jones-Drew For his durability as a featured back, his strength to break tackles and to make crucial pancake blocks (most notably on Shawn Merriman) despite his diminutive size.
Porcelain Pennington Chad Pennington Derogatory reference to his repeated season-ending injuries
Pork Chop Floyd Womack
Posse[134] Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders Trio of wide receivers on the Washington Redskins of the late 1980s through the early 1990s:
Prime Time[135] Deion Sanders His ability to step up at critical moments and make big plays; possibly self-bestowed
Pudge William Heffelfinger
Purple People Eaters Late-1960s to 70's Minnesota Vikings defensive line of Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen and Jim Marshall Reference to the purple uniforms of the Vikings and a takeoff of the 1960s song "One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater"
Quiet Storm[136] Marques Colston Reference to Colston's shyness and ability to make big plays.
Ray Ray Ray Lewis
Raytorious L52 Ray Lewis A play on the name of the rapper Notorious B.I.G.; Lewis was known in the NFL as notorious for playing well against offensive players.
Red Rifle Andy Dalton Reference to Dalton's red hair.
Refrigerator or Fridge[137] William Perry His immense size in comparison to other defensive linemen
Resolute Runner Ryan Williams His fearless running ability
Revis Island[138] Darrelle Revis His ability to cover wide receivers was compared to being stranded on an island
RG3 Robert Griffin III His name
Road Runner David Wilson His speed, quickness, agility, and dynamic running ability; given to him while he was at Virginia Tech
Rocket Raghib Ismail His speed; given to him while he was at Notre Dame
Roger the Dodger Roger Staubach His ability to avoid the pass rush; given to him while at Navy
Run DMC Darren McFadden His speed; given to him in beginning of 2011 season, also a play on his initials.
Sanchize Mark Sanchez franchise. Now used more mockingly whenever he performs poorly.
The Samoan Head Hunter Troy Polamalu His ability to confuse the opposing offense and make bone crushing tackles.
Sausage[139] Anthony Sherman Given to him by Kansas City Chiefs play-by-play announcer Mitch Holthus.
Scramblin' Fran Fran Tarkenton His ability to avoid defenders in the backfield and penchant for running with the ball if the pass play broke down.
Shady McCoy LeSean McCoy His mother game him the nickname as he had lots of mood changes when he was young.
The Sheriff[140] Peyton Manning Well known for calling his own plays at the line of scrimmage and hurry-up offense.
Silverback[80] James Harrison His strength, which is likened to that of a silverback gorilla
Silverback Trent Williams named after the male gorilla. given to him by teammates and one he embraces. Williams has a huge gorilla tattoo on his back and owns gorilla art.
Sixty Minute Man[141] Chuck Bednarik Playing on both offense and defense (and thus playing all sixty minutes of the game); is sometimes applied generally to any player that does this. Bednarik is generally recognized as the last to have r
Slash Kordell Stewart The punctuation mark used when describing his dual position as a quarterback/receiver.
Slingin' Sammy Sammy Baugh His affinity for passing the ball, particularly deep downfield
Slot Machine Wes Welker His effectiveness lining up between the split end/flanker and the linemen (i.e. "the slot")
Smash and Dash[142] Chris Johnson & LenDale White Running back duo of the Titans starting in 2008; White being Smash for his 'power running back' skills and Johnson being Dash because of his astonishing breakaway speed
Smash, Dash, and Tash Marion Barber III, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice Dallas Cowboys' 3 man running attack starting in 2008; nod to the Titans' "Smash and Dash"; Barber = Smash (power back), Jones = Dash (speed back), Choice = Tash (contraction of first name)
Snacks, Big Snacks[143] Damon Harrison Based on his refusal to eat Rice Krispie Treats left for him by the coaching staff
Snake Knowlton Ames His speed and elusiveness
Snake Ken Stabler Earned his nickname from his coach following a long, winding touchdown run
Snake Jake Plummer His ability of "snaking" around out of pressure in the pocket; also rhymes with first name
Smurfs[144] Gary Clark, Alvin Garrett, and Charlie Brown 1980s Redskins' receiving corps; because of their diminutive size (Garrett was 5'7”, Clark was 5'9”, and Brown the tallest at 5'10”), comparing them to the tiny blue comic and cartoon characters
Spiderman[145] Joe Webb Drafted as a wide receiver by the Minnesota Vikings, on Brett Favre's insistence Joe Webb was signed to the team as a back-up QB. Went on to lead Vikings to a win in Philadelphia, against Michael Vick and the Eagles playing a must-win game. Lovingly called Spiderman, due to his last name.
Superman Cam[146] Cam Newton Due to both his unusually athletic physique and habit of pretending to rip open his jersey to reveal a "S" underneath when scoring a rushing touchdown.
Sweetness[147] Walter Payton Earned in college at Jackson State University for his slick moves on the field, his amazing dancing skills, and his friendly personality.
TD Terrell Davis His initials, also referring to the abbreviation for "touchdown"; Davis holds the record for most rushing touchdowns in one Super Bowl game with three
The GOAT Jerry Rice Earned from teammates and other NFL players and Sportscasters, referring to the abbreviation of the Greatest Of All Time.
T-Mobile[148] Tyrod Taylor From the wireless carrier T-Mobile, Taylor's initials and his scrambling style of play
Tebow Time Tim Tebow Used as Tim Tebow for making comebacks in games
That Idiot[149] Mike Vanderjagt Before the Pro Bowl in 2003 Vanderjagt questioned the passion of Colts' teammate Peyton Manning & coach Tony Dungy. In response Manning gave an angry sideline interview in which he acknowledged Vanderjagt as a good kicker, but called him an idiot at least four different times.
T.O. Terrell Owens His initials
The Tasmanian Devil Troy Polamalu He plays with a style that borders on reckless, and, like the cartoon character, he is something of whirling dervish.
Three Headed Monster[150] Duce Staley, Correll Buckhalter and Brian Westbrook Trio of star running backs that all played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003.
The Throwin' Samoan Jack Thompson A quarterback whose birthplace was American Samoa
The Williams Wall Pat Williams & Kevin Williams The duo is largely responsible for the Vikings fielding such a stiff run defense, and they make it nearly impossible for the opposition to consistently gain yardage between the tackles.
Thunder & Lightning Keenan McCardell & Jimmy Smith 1996–2001 Jaguars wide receiver tandem; McCardell = Thunder, Smith = Lightning
Thunder and Lightning Ron Dayne & Tiki Barber 2000 Giants running back tandem; Dayne = Thunder, Barber = Lightning
Thunder and Lightning Ricky Watters & Charlie Garner 1995–1997 Eagles running back tandem; Watters = Thunder, Garner = Lightning
Thunder and Lightning Chuck Muncie & Tony Galbreath 1976–1980 New Orleans Saints dynamic running back duo known as "Thunder and Lightning". The nickname is credited to former Saints Head Coach Hank Stram.[151][152]
Tom Terrific Tom Brady Due to his excellent play in the 2001, 2003, and 2004 Super Bowls and since.
Tommy Gun aka Touchdown Tommy Tommy Maddox Nickname given for Maddox's passing ability, making the Steelers more of a downfield team.
Touchdown Tom Tom Brady For his 2007 season where he passed for 50 touchdowns, the NFL record at the time.
Touchdown Tommy Tommy Vardell He was given the nickname in college by Stanford head coach Dennis Green after scoring four touchdowns against Notre Dame.
Tuel Time[153] Jeff Tuel A play on the show-within-a-show Tool Time on the 1990s sitcom Home Improvement.
Tuna[154] Bill Parcells Bestowed in 1980, well after his (very brief) NFL playing career ended, when Parcells was an assistant with the New England Patriots, as an homage to the advertising icon Charlie the Tuna.
The Tyler Rose Earl Campbell Campbell is from Tyler, Texas
Two-Minute Tommy Tommy Kramer Had a knack for late game come-from-behind wins.
Uncle Rico[155] Kyle Orton Orton bore a resemblance to Uncle Rico, a washed-up former high school backup quarterback in the movie Napoleon Dynamite, especially during his time with the Buffalo Bills. Prior to his signing with the Bills, he earned the nickname Neckbeard for his facial hair.
Uptown Gene Upshaw A play on his name, but also his role as a guard when run-blocking.
Wash and Wear Thomas Jones & Leon Washington 2008–2009 Jets duo of running backs
Weapon X/Wolverine Brian Dawkins His hard-hitting, game-changing play style. As well as his flying tackles.
Well Dressed Amani Toomer Amani Toomer Given by Chris Berman, play on Armani suits.
White Shoes Billy Johnson His choice of footwear at a time when most players wore black cleats
The Wheaton Iceman[156] Harold "Red" Grange A part-time job he once held delivering ice in his hometown of Wheaton, Illinois
Wildman Ray Nitschke
Windy City Flyer and Miami Missile[157] Devin Hester Hester's speed and a nickname for the city of Chicago, in which he plays; bestowed by WBBM 780 radio-announcer Jeff Joniak
WD40 Mike Alstott

Warrick Dunn

For Dunn's initials and Alstott's #40
World Jerry Rice He acquired the nickname "World" at Mississippi Valley State University because there wasn't a ball in the world he couldn't catch.



  • The 12th Man/The 12's:[170] Nickname given to the fans of the Seattle Seahawks because of the impact of their loud cheering on the opposing team's offensive linemen, leading to false start penalties. Since 1990, the Seahawks have had to pay licensing fees to Texas A&M University at College Station, because of the college filing a trademark on the phrase that year.[171] Used to a lesser extent by the Buffalo Bills, also under license.
  • 49ers Faithful:[172] Nickname given to the fans of the San Francisco 49ers.
  • 4th Phase: Fans of the Chicago Bears. Infers the fans are the 4th phase of the game, after Offense, Defense and Special Teams.
  • Bills Backers:[173] Buffalo Bills fans. Because of the massive population displacement of Western New Yorkers, "Bills Backers Bars" can be found in almost every major city throughout the United States.
  • Bills Elvis:[174] Entertainer and Elvis impersonator John R. Lang, who appears with a large white guitar that he uses as a billboard. He is one of the Bills' most recognizable individual fans.
  • Black Hole:[175] Oakland Raiders fans who sit in a section of the Oakland Coliseum known as the 'black hole' (sections 104, 105, 106, and 107) which is mostly occupied by rowdy fans.
  • Boo Birds:[176] Philadelphia Eagles Though used by other teams as well, largely refers to Philadelphia Eagles fans who are known for their tendency to boo for almost any reason and especially at their own team when the Eagles are performing poorly.
  • Browns Backers: The fan club for the Cleveland Browns that has over 100,000 members[177]
  • Cheeseheads:[178] A name given to people of Wisconsin (mainly Green Bay Packers fans) by Chicago Bears fans after the Bears won the Super Bowl. The name mocks Wisconsin's love of cheese. The name eventually gained acceptance.
  • Chief Zee:[179] Fan at nearly all Washington Redskins games since 1978 and considered the unofficial mascot of the team. He wears an Indian headdress, large rimmed glasses, with a red jacket and carries a tomahawk.
  • Fireman Ed:[180] Fan at NY Jets home games who wore a green fireman helmet with a Jets logo on the front. Known for leading the "J-E-T-S" chants. He retired the "Fireman Ed" character immediately after the infamous Butt Fumble game, although he still attends games.
  • Franco's Italian Army:[181][182] Fans of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris.
  • Gerela's Gorillas:[182] Fans of Pittsburgh Steelers placekicker Roy Gerela.
  • Hogettes:[183] A group of about twelve Washington Redskins fans who dress in drag and wear pig-noses. The name is a takeoff of the Redskins' "Hogs" offensive line.
  • Niner Empire: Fans of the San Francisco 49ers. Due to the 49ers Super Bowl dynasty of the 1980s and part way into the 1990s.
  • Packer Backer: Fan of the Green Bay Packers. Sometimes used derisively by Bears fans.
  • Pinto Ron:[184] Ken Johnson, a well-known fan of the Buffalo Bills known for appearing at all the Bills' home and away games, his bushy beard, his tailgating on a 1980 Ford Pinto (hence his name), and the infamous practice of serving shots of liquor out of a bowling ball, a practice that the league has since banned.
  • Redskins Nation: Fans of the Washington Redskins.
  • Raider Nation:[185] Oakland Raiders fans. The first team in the NFL to be characterized as a "nation". The rest of the teams quickly adopted the title and therefore coined a variety of various team "nations".
  • Steeler Nation:[186][187] Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • SuperSkin:[188] Die-hard fan of the Washington Redskins, who attends each home game dressed in a burgundy and gold superhero costume and motivates other fans to cheer loudly.
  • The Sea of Red: Nickname given to the loudest NFL fans of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
  • Who Dat Nation:[189] New Orleans Saints fans.

Rules named after NFL figures

Throughout the league's history, a number of rules have been enacted largely because of exploits on the field by a single coach, owner, player, or referee. The following is a partial list of such rule changes:

  • previous year's NFL Championship Game, the Rams scored a safety when Baugh, throwing the ball from his own end zone, hit the goal posts (which were on the goal line between 1933 and 1973). The two points were the margin of victory as the Rams won 15–14. Marshall was so mad at the outcome that he was a major force in passing this rule change.
  • Bert Emanuel rule:[190] The ball can touch the ground during a completed pass as long as the receiver maintains control of the ball. Enacted in 2000 due to a play in the 1999 NFC championship game, where Emanuel, playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had a catch ruled incomplete since the ball touched the ground.
  • Bill Belichick rule:[191] Two defensive players, one primary and one backup, will have a radio device in their helmets allowing the head coach to communicate with them through the radio headset, identical to the radio device inside the helmet of the quarterback. This proposal was defeated in previous years, but was finally enacted in 2008 as a result of Spygate.
  • Brian Bosworth rule:[192] Linebackers are allowed to wear jersey numbers between 40 and 49. Named for Bosworth, who unsuccessfully sued the NFL, and had himself listed as a safety, to be allowed to wear the number 44 as a linebacker, the rule was passed long after Bosworth's retirement.
  • Bronko Nagurski rule:[193] Enacted in 1933, forward passing became legal from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Enacted in response to a controversial call in the 1932 NFL Playoff Game, in which Nagurski completed a two-yard pass to Red Grange for the Chicago Bears' winning touchdown. The rule at the time mandated that a forward pass had to be thrown from at least five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Nagurski appeared to have not dropped back five yards before passing to Grange, but the touchdown stood.
  • Calvin Johnson rule:[194] A receiver must maintain possession of the football throughout the completion of the play. This was more precisely a clarification of the existing rules regarding catches, made in 2010 in response to a play by Calvin Johnson, who caught the ball in the end zone, and placed it on the ground before standing up. This was ruled incomplete upon review, and upheld, though it generated a lot of discussion about what constituted a catch.
  • Carson Palmer rule:[195] A rushing defensive player won't be allowed to forcibly hit a quarterback below the knees, unless they are blocked into. Enacted in the 2006 NFL season after Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was injured in the 2005 AFC Wild Card game after he was hit below by Steelers defender Kimo von Oelhoffen.
  • Dave Casper rule: See the "Ken Stabler" rule.
  • Deacon Jones rule:[193] No head-slapping. Enacted in 1977 in response to the defensive end's frequently used technique against opponents.
  • Deion Sanders rule:[196] Player salary rule which correlates a contract's signing bonus with its yearly salary. Enacted after Sanders signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995 for a minimum salary and a $13 million signing bonus. (There is also a college football rule with this nickname.)
  • Ed Hochuli rule:[197] Instant replay can be used to determine whether a loose ball from a passer is definitely a fumble or an incomplete pass. This was enacted in 2009 in response to a play in the San Diego ChargersDenver Broncos Week 2 regular season game where, in the final minutes, referee Ed Hochuli ruled that Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler threw an incomplete pass. Replays clearly showed it was a fumble, but the play was previously not reviewable.
  • Emmitt Smith rule:[193] A player cannot remove his helmet while on the field of play, except in the case of obvious medical difficulty. A violation is treated as unsportsmanlike conduct. Enacted in 1997. The Dallas Cowboys running back was the most high-profile player who celebrated in this manner immediately after scoring a touchdown.
  • Fran Tarkenton rule:[193] A line judge was added as the sixth official to ensure that a back was indeed behind the line of scrimmage before throwing a forward pass. Enacted in 1965 in response to Tarkenton, who frequently scrambled around in the backfield from one side to the other.
  • Greg Pruitt rule:[198] Tear-away jerseys became illegal starting in 1979. Pruitt purposely wore flimsy jerseys that ripped apart in the hands of would-be tacklers. Such a jersey was most infamously seen in a 1978 game between the Rams and Oilers in which Earl Campbell's jersey ripped apart after several missed tackles.
  • Hines Ward rule:[199] The blocking rule makes illegal a blindside block if it comes from the blocker's helmet, forearm or shoulder and lands to the head or neck area of the defender. Enacted in 2009 after the Pittsburgh Steelers receiver broke Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers's jaw while making such a block during the previous season.
  • Jerome Bettis rule:[200] Enacted in 1999, the rule states all calls for coin flips will occur before the referee tosses the coin in the air, and at least two officials will be present during the coin toss. This is in response to a call considered one of the "worst in history."[201] In a Thanksgiving Day game with the Detroit Lions on November 26, 1998, Bettis was sent out as the Steelers' representative for the overtime coin toss. Bettis appeared to call "tails" while the coin was in the air but referee Phil Luckett declared that Bettis called "heads" and awarded possession to Detroit, who would go on to win the game before Pittsburgh had the chance to have possession.
  • Jim Schwartz rule:[202] Modifying the "no-challenge" rule adopted prior to the 2012 season to eliminate the automatic "no-review" penalty when a coach challenges a play that is subject to automatic review by the replay booth (turnovers, scoring plays, and any play inside of the two-minute warning). This change was prompted after the 2012 Thanksgiving Day game when Detroit Lions' head coach Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag on a play where replay clearly showed Houston Texans' running back Justin Forsett's knee touched the ground, but was able to get up and score a touchdown. Due to the way the rule was written at the time the penalty for the errant challenge prevented the play from being reviewed.[203] Under the revised rule teams will be charged a time-out (or an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty if the team is out of time-outs) when a coach throws a challenge flag on a booth-reviewable play, but the play will still be reviewed if the replay booth believes a review is necessary.[204]
  • Ken Stabler rule:[193] On fourth down at any time in the game or any down in the final two minutes of a half, if a player fumbles forward, only the fumbling player can recover and/or advance the ball. If that player's teammate recovers the ball, it is placed back at the spot of the fumble. A defensive player can recover and advance at any time of play. Enacted in 1979 in response to the 1978 "Holy Roller" play that resulted in a last-minute game-winning touchdown over San Diego, in which Oakland Raiders quarterback Stabler fumbled the ball forward, and tight end Dave Casper eventually performed a soccer-like dribble before falling on it in the end zone.
  • Lester Hayes rule:[193] No Stickum allowed. Enacted in 1981 in response to the Oakland Raiders defensive back, who used the sticky substance to improve his grip.
  • Lou Groza rule:[193] No artificial medium to assist in the execution of a kick. Enacted in 1956 in response to Groza, who used tape and later a special tee with a long tail to help him guide his foot to the center spot of the football.
  • Mel Blount rule:[205] Officially known as illegal use of hands, defensive backs can only make contact with receivers within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Enacted in its current form in 1978. While playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive back Blount frequently used physical play against receivers he was covering.
  • Mel Renfro rule:[193] Allows a second player on the offense to catch a tipped ball, without a defender subsequently touching it. Enacted in 1978. One of the first high-profile "victims" of the old rule was Dallas Cowboys defensive back Renfro in Super Bowl V; his tip of a pass allowed the Baltimore Colts' John Mackey to legally catch the ball and run in for a 75-yard touchdown.
  • NaVorro Bowman rule:[206] Enacted in 2014, this rule subjects plays in which a loose ball has been recovered to instant replay. Named for Bowman, who during an incident in the previous season's NFC Championship Game recovered a fumble after the officials had blown the play dead.
  • Neil Smith rule:[207][208] Prevents a defensive lineman from flinching to induce a false start penalty on the offense. Enacted in 1998. Smith had frequently used that technique while playing for both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos.
  • Phil Dawson rule:[209] Certain field goals can be reviewed by instant replay, including kicks that bounce off the uprights. Under the previous system, no field goals could be replayed. Enacted in 2008 in response to an unusual field goal by the Cleveland Browns kicker in a 2007 game against Baltimore: the ball first bounced off the left upright, then back onto the rear curved post (stanchion), then back out over the crossbar and into the end zone, in front of the goalpost. It was initially ruled by the officials as "no good", but was reversed "upon discussion".
  • Red Grange rule:[210] Prohibits college football players from signing with NFL teams until after their college class had graduated. The rule was enacted after Red Grange and Ernie Nevers joined the Chicago Bears and Duluth Eskimos, respectively, immediately after their final college football games in 1925.
  • Ricky (Williams) rule:[211] Rule declared that hair could not be used to block part of the uniform from a tackler and, therefore, an opposing player could be tackled by his hair. Enacted in 2003. Rule was so-named after running back Williams' long dread-locks.
  • (Dan) Rooney Rule:[212] Requires teams to interview minority candidates for a head coaching opportunity. Enacted in 2003. Pittsburgh Steelers owner Rooney was a major proponent of such a change.
  • Roy Williams rule:[213] No horse-collar tackles. Enacted in 2005 after the Dallas Cowboys safety broke Terrell Owens's ankle and Musa Smith's leg on horse-collar tackles during the previous season.
  • Shawne Merriman rule:[214] Bans any player from playing in the Pro Bowl if he tests positive for using a performance-enhancing drug during that season. Enacted in 2007 after the San Diego Chargers linebacker played at the 2007 Pro Bowl after testing positive and serving a four-game suspension during the preceding season.
  • that fear the new rules will dampen the spirit of the game and make professional football "too soft". [217] and from others[216]
  • Steve Tasker rule:[218] On punt returns, gunners receive a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for deliberately running out of bounds to avoid blocks, a tactic frequently used by Tasker before the rule was implemented.
  • Tom Brady rule:[219] A clarification to the Carson Palmer rule; prohibits a defender on the ground from lunging or diving at a quarterback's legs unless that defender has been blocked or fouled into the signal-caller. Enacted in 2009 in response to a play by Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard, who on the ground sacked Brady and injured the Patriots quarterback's MCL and ACL, sidelining him for the rest of the 2008 season.
  • Tom Dempsey rule:[220][221] Any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe. Enacted in 1977. Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot and no right arm, wore a modified shoe with a flattened and enlarged toe surface, generating controversy about whether such a shoe gave him an unfair advantage kicking field goals. Dempsey's game-winning 63-yard field goal in 1970 was the longest in NFL history until the Denver Broncos' Matt Prater kicked a 64-yard field goal on December 8, 2013.
  • Ty Law rule (also known as the Rodney Harrison rule):[222] Enacted in 2004, placed more emphasis on the Mel Blount rule. Enacted after Law, Harrison, and the rest of the New England Patriots defense utilized an aggressive coverage scheme, involving excessive jamming of wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, in the 2003 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.


  • Baltimore Triangle: The mid-field logo at M&T Bank Stadium of the Baltimore Ravens. It is named so because the mid-field shield logo of the Ravens is shaped like a triangle and their defense "makes offenses disappear" when opposing teams take snaps from that area.
  • Battle of the Bays: Nickname given to any game held between the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Battle of the Beltway: Nickname given to any game held between the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Boise Rule: A rule instituted by the NFL in 2011 banning non-green playing surfaces. "Boise" refers to Albertsons Stadium (then known as Bronco Stadium), the home field of Boise State University, famous for its blue playing surface. The rule was viewed as a reaction to potential sponsor influence, as no NFL team had considered adopting a non-green surface.[223]
  • The Duke: A nickname for the late Wellington Mara, longtime owner of the New York Giants. The nickname stems from the Duke of Wellington, an actual English hereditary title. This nickname was extended to the official game ball used by the NFL "The Duke" named in honor of Mr. Mara. To this day one can notice the moniker "THE DUKE." branded into every official NFL football just to the left of the NFL Shield. (In Denver, the same nickname was given to quarterback John Elway, after a teammate noticed that his walk to the huddle before The Drive in 1987 looked like John Wayne's.)[224]
  • Harbaugh Bowl: Rare games when brothers John and Jim Harbaugh, both NFL head coaches, met as opponents, which included Super Bowl XLVII, the first Super Bowl in which brothers were opposing coaches. The games have also been given nicknames like the "HarBowl".[225]
  • Ickey Shuffle:[226] Dance done by Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods whenever he scored a touchdown. Woods was forced to move the dance to the sidelines behind the Bengals' bench after officials starting penalizing him for unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • K-Gun:[227] Nickname referring to the no-huddle offense used by the Buffalo Bills with quarterback Jim Kelly during the late 1980s and early to mid-1990s.
  • Lambeau Leap:[228] During home games at Lambeau Field, some players from the Green Bay Packers would leap into the stands after scoring a touchdown. Originally created by LeRoy Butler, it was made popular by Robert Brooks. Players in other stadiums imitate the leap.
  • The Legend of Kiko Alonso: Humorous anecdotes about linebacker Kiko Alonso, done in the style of Chuck Norris facts.[229]
  • Lights out: Dance by linebacker Shawne Merriman after he gets a sack.
  • Manning Bowl: Rare games when quarterback brothers Peyton (formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, now with the Denver Broncos) and Eli Manning (New York Giants) met as opponents.
  • Miami Pound Machine: Nickname for the 1980s Dolphins defense, named in honor of Gloria Estefan's group "Miami Sound Machine". Gloria and her manager-husband Emilio Estefan would become minority owners of the 'Phins before the 2009 season.
  • Miami Vise: Also a Dolphins defense nickname, after the TV show Miami Vice.
  • Mile High Salute:[230] A touchdown celebration used by Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis during his playing career, in which he would salute his fellow teammates (and sometimes the fans). A simplified variant (including only the salute portion) has been used by Broncos players ever since.
  • No Fun League:[231][232] Used by various reports criticizing the league for its sanctions imposed on teams. Popularized by the XFL.
  • Sack Dance:[233] New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau was nationally famous for doing his signature "Sack Dance" after sacking an opposing quarterback. However, he had to stop when the NFL declared it "unsportsman like taunting" in March 1984 and began fining players for it. The ban on the Sack Dance stemmed from a 1983 game against the Los Angeles Rams, when Gastineau and Rams Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jackie Slater got into a fight following a Gastineau sack of Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo.
  • Tebowing:[234] A pose imitating Tim Tebow's stance when praying; Tebow, a devout Christian, is often seen in prayer. Tebow has been indifferent to those who have used the pose to mock him, but has praised those who have done it out of respect for his faith.[235]
  • Terrible Towel:[236] a banner conceived by the late Myron Cope (long time Steeler commentator) used by fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers to cheer for their team, consisting of a yellow towel with the words "Terrible Towel" in black, to be waved in the air. The Carolina Panthers also began a spin-off known as the "Growl Towel".[237] Also spoofed by the Packers following their third Super Bowl victory as the "Title Towel". Similar traditions have also started in other sports, as Towel Power used by the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League and the Homer Hanky used by Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins.
  • Derrick Thomas Rule: Because of the deceased player's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction included speeches by both the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs and his son ran long, the Hall of Fame prohibits deceased players' family or teams from making speeches for the deceased member.
  • WGCL Rule: Each NFL team has 14 games assigned to the network within their conference, with the two interconference home games assigned to the network of the visiting team's conference. In theory, Fox should carry at least one game during the season featuring each of the 16 AFC teams, and CBS should carry at least one game of the season featuring each of the 16 NFC teams. The Atlanta Falcons had both home games against AFC teams (airing on CBS) moved to NBC and ESPN, respectively, which in effect hurt WGCL, the CBS affiliate in Atlanta. The NFL made television rule changes in 2014 to permit networks to "cross-flex" the games during the new flexible schedule rules to protect its affiliates, as WGCL has struggled in the Atlanta market against established network affiliates because of its former independent status prior to the 1994 television realignment (Atlanta is one of three major NFL markets where CBS was severely demoted in the 1994 realignment), was beaten handily by WAGA during the season in ratings. Ironically, WGCL was a station that benefited from such a cross-flex during the 2014 season, as the home game against the Carolina Panthers, a Fox game, was assigned to CBS. The Week 17 game, which was a winner take all game for the NFC South, was assigned to CBS so Fox could keep the NFC North games that had playoff implications.

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External links

  • Sports Nicknames: 20,000 Professionals Worldwide by Terry W. Pruyne
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