Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “No orator can top the one who can give good
The game of football has produced some of the sporting world’s best
nicknames. With apologies to The Toe, Pacman and The Bus, here are 14 of
the best handles in NFL history.
Dick “Night Train” Lane was a ferocious tackler who played 14 NFL seasons as
a defensive back. His 14 interceptions – set as a rookie in 1952 — remains
an NFL record.
David “Deacon” Jones coined the term “quarterback sack.” One of the
most ferocious defensive ends in history, Deacon was voted to the NFL 75th
Anniversary All-Time Team.
As a first-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 1985, William Perry was as
large as a kitchen appliance. It is fitting that the 350-pound defensive
tackle [and occasional fullback] was known as “The Refrigerator.”
Dubbed “The Honey Badger” for his ability to dominate much larger opponents,
Tyrann Mathieu is a badass. 2011 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Chuck
Bednarik Award winner, the 5’9″, 186-pound safety is currently a Houston
Arguably the most complete football player in history, Walter Payton
could do it all. With a running style as pure as honey and a personality to
match, “Sweetness” retired in 1987 as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
Anything but sweet, “Mean” Joe Greene was the heart and soul of the “Steel
Curtain” defense that anchored the Pittsburgh Steelers teams that won four
Super Bowls in six years. The greatest Steeler of them all, Mean Joe played
13 seasons before retiring in 1981.
In 2008, ESPN named Red Grange the best college football player of all
time. A charter member of both the College and Pro Football halls of fame,
“The Galloping Ghost” was the NFL’s first star, and helped legitimize the
league in the 1920s and 1930s.
Another who helped legitimize a league is Lance Alworth. A seven-time
AFL All-Star, “Bambi” is the greatest receiver in AFL history. While he won
a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys, Alworth is really an AFLer – and is
the league’s first player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A track star from Nigeria who did not take up football until 23, 253-pound
running back Christian Okoye led the NFL in rushing in 1989. Dubbed the
“Nigerian Nightmare” for his powerful running style and ability to break
tackles, Okoye played in two Pro Bowls in six NFL seasons.
No player has ever embodied the swashbuckling style of the Oakland Raiders
more than Ken “Snake” Stabler. The 1974 NFL MVP twice led the league in
passing touchdowns and guided the Silver and Black to victory in Super Bowl
A speedy running back and kick returner for Miami Dolphins teams that
played in three straight Super Bowls, Eugene “Mercury” Morris led the NFL in
rushing touchdowns in 1972.
One of the most vicious tacklers in the history of football and the last
full-time two way player in the NFL, “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik is football
royalty. A Slovak-American from the Lehigh Valley region of Philly,
Bednarik led the Eagles to the 1960 NFL title.
A four-sport standout in high school, Ed Jones accepted a basketball
scholarship to Tennessee State. Two years later, he switched to football.
At his first practice, a teammate noticed Jones’ pants didn’t fit, because
he was “too tall for football.” Ed “Too Tall” Jones was a three-time
All-Pro defensive end who helped the Dallas Cowboys win Super Bowl XII.