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Top 10 NFL Nicknames

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  • Top 10 NFL Nicknames

    William ‘The Refrigerator’ PerryArguably the most famous NFL player among fans in the United Kingdom. Everywhere you go, someone has heard of ‘The Fridge’ even if they don’t know much about the game. Perry was an unheralded rookie defensive tackle in 1985 when the Chicago Bears decided to try him on the offensive side of the ball. A couple of touchdowns later and ‘The Fridge’ was a worldwide phenomenon, capping his speedy rise to fame with a touchdown in Super Bowl XX.

    Also played for the Philadelphia Eagles and then the London Monarchs in the World League of American Football at the end of his career. Nickname came about because he was as large as refrigerator and could probably hold a lot more food!

    Jack ‘The Assassin’ Tatum

    As one of the most intimidating and hardest-hitting defenders of his era, Tatum had the perfect nickname to strike fear into the heart of every opponent he faced. Once branded part of the NFL’s “criminal element” by Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll, Tatum played for the Oakland Raiders from 1971 to 1979 and left a trail of bruised and battered receivers in his wake.

    Sadly, Tatum crippled New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley with a vicious hit during a 1978 preseason friendly. It was a legal tackle on Tatum’s part but he was heavily criticised, especially as he has never apologised to Stingley or even spoken to the man who remains in a wheelchair to this day.

    Elroy ‘Crazy Legs’ Hirsch

    Wide receiver Elroy Hirsch starred for the Chicago Rockets from 1946 to 1948 and the Los Angeles Rams from 1949 until 1957. During that time, he earned the nickname ‘Crazy Legs’ for his zig-zag running style that made him so elusive. Crazy Legs averaged 18 yards per catch during his spell with the Rams and his best season came in 1951, when he caught 66 passes for 1,495 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.

    Hirsch announced his retirement at the end of the 1954 season and was honoured at halftime of a Rams game against the Green Bay Packers on December 12, 1954. During the ceremony, hundreds of fans came out of the stands and began tearing the uniform of their hero. They grabbed his shirt, shoulder pads and every piece of uniform, leaving Hirsch at midfield wearing just his hip pads and undershorts. Crazy Legs was so moved by the ceremony he changed his mind about quitting and played for another three years.

    Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane
    Another of the more famous NFL nicknames. This one was so well known that the player became known as Night Train Lane, dispensing of his first name all together.

    Lane earned his nickname as a rookie during training camp with the Los Angeles Rams. Trying out as a receiver, the youngster turned to veteran stars Elroy ‘Crazy Legs’ Hirsch and Tom Fears for guidance.

    Fears was constantly playing ‘Night Train’ by Buddy Morrow during camp and Lane always seemed to enter the room seeking advice when the song was on the record player. Thus, Lane became known as ‘Night Train’ and he went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career as an NFL cornerback, recording 68 interceptions while playing for the Rams, Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions.

    ‘Broadway’ Joe NamathThe New York Jets quarterback was dubbed ‘Broadway Joe’ due to his love of the Manhattan nightlife during his NFL career and his flashy style that made him a household name at a time when pro football was really taking off in America. Namath was the NFL’s equivalent of George Best in the 1960s – loaded with talent, blessed with roguish good looks and the owner of a wallet packed with plenty of cash.

    Namath’s star shone even brighter – if that was possible – in January, 1969, when he boldy guaranteed his Jets would win Super Bowl III against the Baltimore Colts, even though their opponents were favoured by 18 points. Namath led the Jets to a 16-7 victory and earned Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honours in the process.

    Walter ‘Sweetness’ Payton
    One of the true gentlemen of the NFL, Payton was dubbed ‘Sweetness’ because he was a genuine good guy who had time for everyone he met. Payton also happened to be one of the best running backs in NFL history as he gained a record 16,726 yards in 13 seasons. A mark passed only last season by Emmitt Smith, then of the Dallas Cowboys.

    Sweetness was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and won a Super Bowl with the Bears in 1986. He earned All-Pro honours on five occasions and was twice named NFL Player of the Year. Tragically, Payton died of cancer in 1999, aged 45.

    Harold ‘Red’ Grange – The Galloping Ghost
    Grange was one of the leading college football players in America in the 1920s – a time when the college game was much bigger than the professional NFL. Grange was dubbed ‘The Galloping Ghost’ by legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice because of his phantom-like ability to elude tacklers during a 39-14 thrashing of Michigan. During that contest, Grange gained 402 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns for Illinois.

    In November, 1925, Grange wrapped up his brilliant college career and then made his NFL debut four days later with the Chicago Bears. Fans were in love with ‘The Galloping Ghost’ and the Bears cashed in by going on an eight-game tour of America at the end of the 1925 season.

    Ted ‘Mad Stork’ Hendricks
    Hendricks was called ‘Mad Stork’ throughout a 15-year career that saw him play for the Baltimore Colts, Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders. It was a fitting nickname for a tall, skinny outside linebacker known as much for his zany antics off the field as his ferocious play on it. Hendricks is best remembered for his dominating play with the Raiders towards the end of a career that saw him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

    The Mad Stork once arrived at practice riding a horse from a nearby field. He would also turn up for practices having spent the morning wine-tasting in California’s Sonoma Valley – near the Raiders summer training site. He would practice with purple teeth from all the red wine but he played in 215 consecutive NFL games and was a star performer when it mattered most.

    Jack ‘Hacksaw’ ReynoldsAccording to football legend, Hacksaw Reynolds acquired his nickname because he got so angry following a loss to Mississippi while playing college football at Tennessee in 1969 that he sawed a jeep in half. Reynolds set the record straight when he said: “That’s not true. I never sawed a jeep in half – I love jeeps and owned six of them at one time. It was a 1953 Chevy that I sawed in half.

    Throughout a 14-year NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco *****, Hacksaw earned a reputation as a tough-tackling middle linebacker who could chop opposing ball-carriers in half on any given Sunday.

    Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward

    Ironhead Heyward was a 300-pound bowling ball of a fullback who played for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons from 1990 until 1996. Heyward was a long way off being among the best running backs in NFL history, but anyone who tried to bring him down can testify that his ‘Ironhead’ nickname was very well placed indeed.

    Did we get it right? Do you think there are some better player nicknames that did not make our Top 10. Discuss in’s Forum.

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

  • #2
    Re: Top 10 NFL Nicknames

    I assume that they are not counting David, "Deacon" Jones, since he gave the name to himself? I like Chris "Ethel Merman" Berman.

    general counsel


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