The Greatest Football Names

By Joe Beale on May 12, 2011 at 1:00p
A linebacker from birthKlein has a lot to live up to.

To be perfectly honest, I'm pretty tired of the scandal stories. Don't get me wrong, our guys have done some excellent work on the subject (you might even say we have "top men" working on it, but I would never drop that reference). Still, there's a part of me that just wants to laugh at something right about now. Today, a friend sent me a link (which I will not share due to the political content) that accomplished just that. 

For several years, I've been commenting on how lots of football players have names that seem to fit them well, considering what position they play (former Nebraska QB Eric Crouch fits pretty well in this category). Others have names that are amusing simply because of how strange they are (D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Knowshon Moreno). Still others cause me to have extra sympathy for the play-by-play man who has to spend a day trying to pronounce their names (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Manu Tuiasosopo).

The article that caused me so much amusement today went through an entire list of these, including a all-name team. As he was going through the list of NFL newcomers who fit the bill, the name of one Chimdi Chekwa stood out to me, for obvious reasons. I thought maybe I could have some fun with the topic myself, while placing special emphasis on guys who either currently wear or formerly wore the scarlet and gray. In the process, I'll also open up the topic for all of you to join in the fun if you can think of any favorites from the past or present.

Before we begin, I'm kind of wondering why football seems to attract so many of these. Sure, there are some great names in other sports (Skeeter Barnes, Gordie Howe, Steve Mix), but they just don't measure up to the likes of Hank Poteat or Jerry Sherk (just for you, Browns fans). So why do all of these guys end up as football players and not, say, software developers or accountants? The best theory I can come up with is one that I'll call the "Boy Named Sue" theory. If you're unfamiliar with the song (shame on you), the story is that the father gave his son a girl's name so that the kid would have to get tough, and enduring an endless array of insults as a kid would do the trick. I'm not sure if the logic holds, but it's good enough for me. Besides, can you imagine what a guy like BenJarvus Green-Ellis had to deal with as a kid? I'm guessing his fists are pretty hard at this point.

My favorite football name for years was Takeo Spikes (yes, I'm a Bengals fan). Can you think of a better name for a linebacker? Actually, the current Buckeye roster has two guys who might challenge for the spot: Storm Klein and Andrew Sweat. Not only that, but is there any name that is more fun to say than Etienne Sabino? I suppose for the sake of honesty I'd have to admit that former Notre Dame LB Michael Stonebreaker probably has the best linebacker name that I can remember on a college team. However, these days Brian Kelly's defense is led by a guy named Mante Te'o. Doesn't have the same punch, does it? A close second is former Iowa LB Pat Angerer, who was only that way because he never had to dress in their visitors' locker room.

For defensive backs, it's hard to beat a name like Quentin Jammer. Not only is it fun to say, but it pretty much sums up the job of an NFL cornerback. Then again, it's hard to imagine a better overall football name than Champ Bailey, which has pizzazz regardless of what position he plays. Since the safety position calls for a lot of tackling and provides the opportunity to lay out some big hits, current Buckeye Jamie Wood seems well-named (carrying on the tradition started by former Buckeye Doug Plank). For defensive line, former Iowa Hawkeye Karl Klug has a great name, but does any name say "blue-collar nose-tackle" better than Dexter Larimore?  

There are so many more I could mention but I'll leave the rest to you. So who's your favorite? Is it former Packers running back Terdell Middleton? Or maybe former Jets RB Emerson Boozer? If you're into double-entendre, how about Fair Hooker or Harry Colon? Maybe it's just a name that's fun to say, like former OSU kicker Vlade Janikievski? The floor is open, so give us your most memorable or most ironic name of a current or former college or pro player, with preference for current or former Buckeyes of course.


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BuckeyeBacker98's picture

One of the great names in OSU football history has to be Butler By'not'e. 

And one of my favorite names to alter was Steve Belli-sorry.  Loved his brother Greg, though.

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

I had a history class at OSU with Butler one summer and still remember he added an unnecessary apostrophe to the word "countries."  Remember thinking at the time - of all people to commit apostrophe abuse, this guy is probably the most likely.


Cedric Saunders was also in that class.  Butler - it's Saunders, not Saunder's.

OHIOST1087's picture

Uhh... Dane Sanzenbacher comes first to my mind. I also thought Laurinaitis was pretty awesome, I remember when he was there at OSU, some friends at OSU were going around saying they were "infected with Laurinaitis".

Interesting point on the Chimdi Chekwa thing, I watched most of tOSU's games this year with my friend who is an Iowa fan and we both noticed that 99% of the time of any game that was broadcast the commentators ALWAYS said "Chimdi Chekwa", never just "Chekwa". Purdy cool i reckon.

doodah_man's picture

Taking it a step further, I have always claimed that there are good football names and some that aren't. How can someone named Dick Butkus, AJ Hawk, Otis Sistrunk, Jack Tatum not be a good football player. If you are playing football and don't have a good football name, you need to change it.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

Matt's picture

Dick McNutt.  Game over.


Ken-Yon Rambo had a pretty cool name....

Maestro's picture

Dick Pole and Dick Trickle are two sports names that are tough to top.

My favorite teammates were Matt Stairs and Mike Sweeney.  Makes an incredibly sophomoric but funny sentence if you say their names like "Matt stares at Mike's weenie".  Always made me chuckle.

As far as football names I love Stoneburner for some reason.  Doesn't really make much sense, but it sounds cool to me.  Stonebreaker was a perfect name.  Bronco Nagurski is a great football name and Chris Gamble was a pretty appropriate defensive back name.

vacuuming sucks

Joe Beale's picture

Good call; I don't know how I forgot about Chris Gamble. Indeed, that is a perfect name for a DB.  I also left out former Buckeye Na'il Diggs, another great linebacker name.

GoBucks713's picture

Dick Trickle was always great, because Sunday nights and Monday mornings on Sportscenter, Dan Patrick would always let you know what place he finished, just by simply saying "You know who finished 32nd."

-The Aristocrats!

buckeyedude's picture

I hate to admit this, but I used to work for Schneider, and when I first started there, they gave me a complimentary "Dick Trickle" t-shirt. Now, I'm not into NASCAR, so I thought it was a joke. But I still have that shirt from twenty years ago! Not sure where to wear that damn thing. 



buckeyedude's picture

Holy Shit Maestro, you missed your calling dude! ROFL! 



Irricoir's picture

Boomer Esiason? For a quarterback? Nah, never would happen. Yet...

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Nitz25's picture

I always liked Matt Wilhelm cause we could call him The Kaiser

BuckeyeSki's picture

For humor purposes, Illini MLB Joe Beavis was always a name I enjoyed hearing. On a side note, that game against them in 02, that kid played his tail off!

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GoBucks713's picture

What about when the Indians had Milton Bradley AND Coco Crisp playing outfield for them?

-The Aristocrats!

Irricoir's picture

I know it was a nickname but Beanie was such a baseball name.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Orlando Buckeye's picture

I have thought for a while that Jake Stoneburner is the perfect name for a TE.  His name could be Jake ToughFast in a less subtle universe.  I liked to see him live up to that in a big way.


Hopefully he doesn't go down in history as Jake StoneHands.

The_Lurker's picture

Some are fun to say, some are just interesting...A smattering of my favorite Buckeye names:

Ken-Yon Rambo
A.J. Hawk
Reggie Germany
Jake Stoneburner
Carlos Snow (I'll never forget how cold I was for Earl's last game and Snow was great that day)
Vince Workman (hated the player for being too soft, but liked the name)
Nicky Sualua
Butler By'Not'e
Kirk Lowdermilk
Orlando Pace

I'm sure there are way more that escape my mind at the moment.

Nick Buckeye's picture

Akron had a corner, now with the Bills, named Reggie Corner.  Sparty had a QB named Jeff Smoker which I always thought was funny.  A couple of other college football players that stick in my mind are Chris Smelley and De'Cody Fagg.

As for OSU, my favorite is Van Ness Decree.  That is a strong name.

The name that had to be the toughest to deal with is Lucious Pusey.  I don't remember where he went to school, but if I remember right he had his last name changed, for obvious reasons.

GoBucks713's picture

Didn't Jeff Smoker get in trouble for smoking crack?

-The Aristocrats!

buckeyedude's picture

I think it would have been easier for Pusey to change his first name.



BuckeyeSki's picture

Rudy Gay must've been a tough SOB growing up

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kyo's picture

It was mentioned once but Na'il Diggs is by far my favorite. We cant forget about Andy "The Kat' Katzenmoyer.

btalbert25's picture

OK if it's greatest name in sports no brainer guys, Randy Johnson.  As if his name didn't already spell porn star, they go and give him a nickname the Big Unit.  Combine that with a mullet and cheesy stache and you have the greatest pitcher ever with most of the credentials needed to be in a skin flick. 

Pretty much any football player that is Samoan has a bad ass name.  Fenen, Maualuga, Peco.  Oh, those are fun to say! 

Buckeye names, Sualua is fun.  Kenyon Rambo sounded bad ass.  Storm Klein, Nai'il Diggs, and Thaddius were some of my faves.

btalbert25's picture

Joe Montanna was a pretty awesome name too


Denster's picture


"It's a double-barreled pistol that fires hard work and victory..."

osujake9's picture

Gary Berry was my favorite growing up.

SLVRBLLTS's picture

How about former NBA player God Shammgod? The ironic thing is i remember there was a glitch in NBA Live '98 where he made absolutely everything.

"Because we couldn't go for three"

nick_ferguson58's picture

My favorite is probably Rock Cartwright.  What better name for a fullback?


Funniest is former FSU receiver Dakoty Fagg.


There are others that Im sure will come to me later



Hoody Wayes's picture

How about Nick_Fagguson58?

WilloughbyBuck's picture

As an old Browns fan - Chip Glass

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Uwe Blab is hands down the coolist freaking name is sports history.

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

coolest also works...

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

AFC Central starting QB's at one time:  Boomer, Bubbie, Bernie, and Warren.  I would guess those guys would wear helmets, but not because of football.

ih8rolltyde's picture

Been said, but A.J. Hawk was born to play the position sideline to sideline. Plus dude absolutely can not look any more like a linebacker. Also, from the way back machine, Lafayette, "Fat" Lever.

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

Cross Village's picture

What can top ABC's camera shot of UWV's DL Johnny DINGLE sitting on the bench just to the left of his line mate Scooter BERRY?

You needed a FUBAR name to even be recruited onto that team:

Boogie Allan, Selvish Capers, Kellen Dykes, Dwight Fluker-Berry, Guesly Dervil, Jake Figner, Ovid Goulbourne, Herb Hand, John Holmes, Mortty Ivy, Rick Trickett, Steven Maw, and best of all Rich Rod hisself.


Too much to believe?



Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

former OSU DB Vince Skillings is an all time favorite....

Seemed like Nebraska/Oklahoma always had really cool RB's in the 70's and 80's: I.M. Hipp, Elvis Peacock, Buster Rhymes, Marcus Dupree, JC Watts, etc....

I think my all time favorite is former Memphis State (now just Memphis) hoopster Baskerville Holmes.....classic, just classic....


Joe Beale's picture

For Nebraska, you forgot about Jarvis Redwine.  Now that's a great name.  Ahman Green isn't too bad either.

buckeyedude's picture

Forgot about I.M Hipp. Wasn't he a running back for OU?



buckeyedude's picture

I work with a dude named, "Clete Champion." I swear to God it's true. And he's white.

Anyway, he's got a few little one's, and they're ALL Champions, and love to sing the song made famous by Fredd'y Mercur'y and Queen.



BuckeyeChief's picture

One of the guys in my last division onboard USS Last Ship was named Sky Rider Crunk...a white guy at that. He was not very good at verbal communication, and sent me an e-mail before he got there saying he was taking leave and going to Mexico before he checked in...I freaked out before he sent me one saying it was actually NEW Mexico.

"2014 National with it!!!"