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List of NFL nicknames: Wikis


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The following are nicknames throughout the history of the NFL.



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


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

Nickname Player(s) Reference To
A-Train[53] Allstott, MikeMike Alstott How he was as difficult to tackle as a freight train; "A" is a reference to his surname initial
Ageless Wonder[54][55] Green, DarrellDarrell Green His remarkable ability to maintain a high level of play during the latter years of his 20 year career.
All Day[56] or AD Peterson, Adrian L.Adrian Peterson Given to him by his parents because he would run "all day".
Anytime}[57] Hester, DevinDevin Hester His ability to return kicks and punts for touchdowns any time. Inspired from his mentor Deion "PrimeTime" Sanders.
Big Ben[58] Roethlisberger, BenBen Roethlisberger His imposing size
Big Game[59] Holt, TorryTorry Holt
Big Snack[60] Hampton, CaseyCasey Hampton Apparent reference to his large size and penchant for eating
Bird Legs[citation needed] Montana, JoeJoe Montana His skinny stature.
Blonde Bomber[citation needed] Bradshaw, TerryTerry Bradshaw His blonde hair combined with his tendencies to throw the ball down the field, hence "bomber"
Broadway Joe[citation needed] Namath, JoeJoe Namath Reference to the wide avenue that ran through New York - the city where he played QB with the New York Jets
Burner[citation needed] Turner, MichaelMichael 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[citation needed] Csonka, LarryLarry Csonka & Jim Kiick Miami Dolphins running back duo from 1968–1974; named after the movie about the famous outlaws.
Bus[61] Bettis, JeromeJerome Bettis Due to his ability to carry tacklers on his back like a "bus"
Bus Driver[citation needed] Lester, TimTim Lester Because he would clear the path for the 'Bus', Jerome Bettis.
Comeback Kid[citation needed] multiple Nickname given to any player, particularly quarterbacks such as Roger Staubach, John Elway,Joe Montana,and Tom Brady, for leading teams in comebacks.
Concrete Charlie[citation needed] Bednarik, ChuckChuck Bednarik Due to missing only 3 games in his 13 season of playing.
Crazy Legs[citation needed] Hirsch, ElroyElroy Hirsch
Crystal Chandelier[citation needed] Chandler, ChrisChris Chandler Was plagued by concussions and injuries, referencing his presumed fragility
Crunch Bunch[citation needed] New York Giants 1981Harry 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[citation needed] Martin, CurtisCurtis Martin Pun on the television show My Favorite Martian; bestowed by ESPN's Chris Berman
Deebo[62] Harrison, JamesJames Harrison His similarity in appearance and demeanor to the character in the movie Friday played by Tom Lister, Jr.
Diesel[63] Riggins, JohnJohn Riggins Due to his powerback style of play - compared to a truck that ran on diesel.
Double Trouble[citation needed] Williams, DeAngelo & Jonathan StewartDeAngelo Williams & Jonathan Stewart Carolina Panthers running back duo from 2008–present
D.T. or D.D.T.[citation needed] Thomas, DerrickDerrick Thomas His initials. Also went by D.D.T. (bestowed by fans) which stood for "Dangerous Derrick Thomas" and after the toxic synthetic pesticide
Dump Truck[64] Davenport, NajehNajeh 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[citation needed] San Francisco 49ers 19841984 San Francisco 49ers defensive secondary led by Dwight Hicks
Edge[citation needed] James, EdgerrinEdgerrin James Shortening of his first name
Earth, Wind and Fire[65] New York Giants 2008Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward& Ahmad Bradshaw 2008 NY Giants running backs; Jacobs = Earth, Ward = Wind, Bradshaw = Fire
Fast Willie[citation needed] Parker, WillieWillie Parker His speed
Fatso[citation needed] Donovan, ArtArt Donovan
Flash 80[citation needed] Rice, JerryJerry Rice His stunning plays combined with his number, 80
Fragile Fred[citation needed] Taylor, FredFred Taylor Perception of being injured constantly
Freak[citation needed] Moss, RandyRandy Moss His freakish athletic abilities
Fun Bunch[66] Washington Redskins 1981Early 1980s Washington Redskins wide receivers and tight ends This groups choreographed touchdown celebrations led to a league-wide ban of "excessive celebration" in 1984.
Galloping Ghost[67] Grange, HaroldHarold "Red" Grange Because no one could catch him
Golden Boy[citation needed] Hornung, PaulPaul Hornung
Gannon The Cannon[citation needed] Gannon, RichRich Gannon "Cannon" rhymes with "Gannon" (also reflects the strength of his arm).
Hacksaw[citation needed] Reynolds, JackJack 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.
Hefty Lefty[citation needed] Lorenzen, JaredJared Lorenzen His size and left-handed throwing motion
Hit and Run[citation needed] Jones, ThomasThomas Jones and Leon Washington New York Jets running back duo from 2008–2009
Hotel[citation needed] Adams, FlozellFlozell Adams
Housh[citation needed] Houshmandzadeh, T.J.T.J. Houshmandzadeh Play on the first syllable of his name.
HogsHogs[68] Washington Redskins1980s 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.
Iron Head[citation needed] Heyward, CraigCraig Heyward His hard-nosed straight-ahead, bruising running style.
Iron Man of the NFL[69] Favre, BrettBrett Favre For his legendary toughness and ability to come back from and play through many injuries and particularly his record streak of consecutive games started
Iron Mike[citation needed] Ditka, MikeMike Ditka
Joe Cool[citation needed] Montana, JoeJoe Montana His ability to remain calm in pressure situations
Juice[citation needed] Simpson, O.J.O. J. Simpson His initials (which also are used to refer to orange juice)
K.G.B.[citation needed] Gbaja-Biamila, KabeerKabeer Gbaja-Biamila His initials
Kansas Comet[citation needed] Sayers, GaleGale Sayers
L.J.[citation needed] Johnson, LarryLarry Johnson His initials
L.T.[citation needed] Taylor, LawrenceLawrence Taylor His initials
LT2[citation needed] Tomlinson, LaDainianLaDainian Tomlinson His initials (with the 2 added to distinguish from Lawrence Taylor)
Light Blue Jesus or LBJ[70] Johnson, ChrisChris Johnson His Titans uniform color, also a nod to Adrian Peterson's nickname, Purple Jesus
Lights Out[citation needed] Merriman, ShawneShawne Merriman Due to his reputation of being a hard hitter; has been shortened to "Lights" by teammates in interviews
Long Gone[citation needed] Dupre, L.G.L.G. Dupre An alternate take on his initials, and a reference to his ability to run away from competitors
Mad Duck[71] Karras, AlexAlex Karras Due to his short legs, he appeared to waddle like a duck.
Mad Stork[citation needed] Hendricks, TedTed Hendricks
Marion the Barbarian[72] Barber, Marion IIIMarion Barber III Due to his physical running style and reputation for repeatedly breaking tackles
Marks Brothers[73] Clayton, MarkMark 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)
Matty Ice[citation needed] Ryan, MattMatt Ryan A play on the nickname for Natural Ice beer, "Natty Ice" which also refers to his ability to remain cool under pressure
Mean Joe[citation needed] Greene, JoeJoe Greene
Meast[citation needed] Taylor, SeanSean Taylor Half Man, half beast
Megatron[citation needed] Johnson, CalvinCalvin Johnson A reference to his size, comparing him to a Transformers character
Mercury[citation needed] Morris, EugeneEugene Morris
Missile[citation needed] Ismail, QadryQadry Ismail His speed (particularly as a kick returner), and also a play on his brother Raghib Ismail's nickname, Rocket
Mossiah, TheThe Mossiah[citation needed] Moss, RandyRandy Moss The Savior for the Vikings. In his rookie year, Moss led the Vikings towards one of the most powerful offenses in the NFL.
Neon[citation needed] Sanders, DeionDeion Sanders His flashy play and the rhyme with his first name
Nigerian Nightmare[citation needed] Okoye, ChristianChristian Okoye To his homeland as well as to the difficulty he posed to defenses
Night Train[citation needed] Lane , DickDick Lane Rumored that due to his race he had to ride a night train to games instead of traveling with his white teammates during the day.
Ocho Cinco[citation needed] Ochocinco, ChadChad Ochocinco Self-bestowed pidgin Spanish reference to his uniform number (85); originally named Chad Johnson, legally changed name to "Chad Ochocinco" in 2008. Also self-refers as "Esteban Ochocinco"
Old Man on the Turf[citation needed] Favre, BrettBrett Favre A play on the title of the Hemingway novella The Old Man and the Sea referencing Favre's age and the playing surface in the Metrodome.
Papa Bear[citation needed] Halas, GeorgeGeorge Halas
Peezy[citation needed] Porter, JoeyJoey Porter Self-bestowed
Playmaker[74] Irvin, MichaelMichael Irvin For his ability to defeat tight coverage, even double coverage, and make big plays.; possibly self-bestowed
Porcelain Pennington[citation needed] Pennington, ChadChad Pennington Derogatory reference to his repeated season-ending injuries
Pork Chop[citation needed] Womack, FloydFloyd Womack
Posse[75] Monk, ArtArt Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders Trio of wide receivers on the Washington Redskins of the late 1980s through the early 1990s:
Prime Time[76] Sanders, DeionDeion Sanders His ability to step up at critical moments and make big plays; possibly self-bestowed
Pudge[citation needed] HeffelfingerWilliam Heffelfinger
Purple Jesus[citation needed] Peterson, AdrianAdrian Peterson His Vikings uniform color; see also Chris Johnson's nickname, "Light Blue Jesus"
Purple People Eaters[citation needed] Minnesota VikingsMid-1970's Minnesota Vikings defensive line of Alan Page, Carl Eller , Gary Larsen and Jim Marshall
Refrigerator or Fridge[77] Perry, WilliamWilliam Perry His immense size in comparison to other defensive linemen
Revis Island[78] Revis, Darrelle.Darrelle Revis His ability to cover wide receivers was compared to being stranded on an island
Rocket[citation needed] Ismail, RaghibRaghib Ismail His speed; given to him while he was at Notre Dame
Roger the Dodger[citation needed] Staubach, RogerRoger Staubach His ability to avoid the pass rush; given to him while at Navy
Scramblin' Fran[citation needed] Tarkenton, FranFran Tarkenton His ability to avoid defenders in the backfield and penchant for running with the ball if the pass play broke down
Silverback[60] Harrison, JamesJames Harrison His strength, which is likened to that of a silverback gorilla
Sixty Minute Man[79] Bednarik, ChuckChuck 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
Slingin' Sammy[citation needed] Baugh, SammySammy Baugh His affinity for passing the ball, particularly deep downfield
Slot Machine[citation needed] Welker, WesWes Welker His effectiveness lining up between the split end/flanker and the linemen (i.e. "the slot")
Smash and Dash[80] Johnson, Chris & LenDale WhiteChris 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[citation needed] Barber, Marion III; Felix JonesMarion 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)
Snake[citation needed] Ames, KnowltonKnowlton Ames His speed and elusiveness
Snake[citation needed] Stabler, KenKen Stabler Earned his nickname from his coach following a long, winding touchdown run
Snake[citation needed] Plummer, JakeJake Plummer His ability of "snaking" around out of pressure in the pocket; also rhymes with first name
Smurfs[81] Clark, Gary; Alvin GarrettGary 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
Sweetness[82] Payton, WalterWalter Payton
TD[citation needed] Davis, TerrellTerrell 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
T.O.[citation needed] Owens, TerrellTerrell Owens His initials
The Inconvenient Truth Gore, FrankFrank Gore The inconvenient truth when many people expect the San Francisco 49ers to lose, he gives them a victory
Three Amigos[83] Jackson, Mark; Vance JohnsonMark Jackson, Vance Johnson, and Ricky Nattiel Broncos trio of wide receivers in the late 1980s and early 1990s; nod to the movie of the same name
Thunder and Lightning[citation needed] Dayne, Ron; Barber, TikiRon Dayne & Tiki Barber 2000 Giants running back tandem; Dayne = Thunder, Barber = Lightning
Thunder and Lightning[citation needed] Watters, Ricky; Charlie GarnerRicky Watters & Charlie Garner 1995–1997 Eagles running back tandem; Watters = Thunder, Garner = Lightning
Tommy Gun[citation needed] Maddox, TommyTommy Maddox
Touchdown Tommy[citation needed] Vardell, TommyTommy Vardell He was given the nickname in college by Stanford head coach Dennis Green after scoring four touchdowns against Notre Dame.
Triplets[84] Aikman, Troy; Michael Irvin; Emmitt SmithTroy Aikman, Michael Irvin & Emmitt Smith Offensive stars of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys 3-time Super Bowl winning teams
Tyler RoseThe Tyler Rose[citation needed] Campbell, EarlEarl Campbell Campbell is from Tyler, Texas
Uptown[citation needed] Upshaw, GeneGene Upshaw
Wash and Wear[citation needed] Jones , Thomas; Leon WashingtonThomas Jones & Leon Washington 2008–2009 Jets duo of running backs
White Shoes[citation needed] Johnson, BillyBilly Johnson His choice of footwear at a time when most players wore black cleats
Wheaton IcemanThe Wheaton Iceman[85] Grange, HaroldHarold "Red" Grange A part-time job he once held delivering ice in his hometown of Wheaton, Illinois
Wildman[citation needed] Nitschke, RayRay Nitschke
Windy City Flyer[86] Hester, DevinDevin Hester Hester's speed and a nickname for the city of Chicago, in which he plays; bestowed by WBBM 780 radio-announcer Jeff Joniak




  • 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.
  • Ickey Shuffle[112] — 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[113] — 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[114] — 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.
  • Lights out - Dance by Chargers Linebacker Shawne Merriman after he gets a sack
  • Miami Pound Machine - Nickname for the 1980s Dolphins defense, named in honor of Gloria Estefan's group "Miami Sound Machine." Ironically, Estefan would become a minority owner of the 'Phins before the 2009 season.
  • Miami Vise - Also a Dolphins defense nickname, after the TV show "Miami Vice."
  • Mile High Salute[115] — Mid-to-late 1990s Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis would salute his soldier father after scoring touchdowns.
  • Sack Dance[116] - 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.
  • Terrible Towel[117] — 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 Miami Dolphins had the horrible hankie long before the Steelers had the terrible towel. The Carolina Panthers also began a spin-off known as the "Growl Towel".[118] Also spoofed by the Packers following their third Super Bowl victory as the "Title Towel". The "Terrible Towel" has jumped to at least one other sport, as the Homer Hanky used by Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins.

See also


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