Merriam-Webster defines “nickname” as a usually descriptive name given instead of or in addition to the one belonging to a person, place or thing. Sports – and football in particular – include some of the best monikers ever coined. The Daily Dose has featured a few, including the Fearsome Foursome and Purple People Eaters.
Here are some of the most clever nicknames for teams or units in NFL history.
Washington Redskins coach George Allen didn’t care for rookies. He built his 1973 NFC championship team around veterans, dubbed the Over-the-Hill Gang for their age, and after the 1969 TV Western.
The Dallas Cowboys featured two iterations of the Doomsday Defense. The first, led by Bob Lilly, Chuck Howley and Mel Renfro, played in the late 1960s. Doomsday II came along a decade later, and included Ed Jones, Harvey Martin and Randy White. Both units won Super Bowls.
In 1975, the St. Louis Cardinals went 11-3 to win the NFC East. Eight of those games were decided in the final minute, giving Cardiac Cards fans heart palpitations.
Originally the nickname of Amos Alonzo Stagg’s great University of Chicago teams of the 1930s, Monsters of the Midway was the name used to describe the dominant Chicago Bears of the early 40s. Four decades later, the handle came out of hibernation and became the nickname of the 1985 Bears – one of the most dominant defenses in history.
Led by quarterback Kurt Warner, The Greatest Show on Turf described the record-breaking offense of the St. Louis Rams of 1999 to 2001. Featuring Marshall Faulk, Terry Holt and Isaac Bruce, the Super Bowl champs boasted one of the highest-powered offenses ever assembled.
Orange Crush was the nickname of the 1977 AFC Champion Denver Broncos defense. Behind Tom Jackson, Randy Gradishar and Rubin Carter, the Broncos boasted the league’s top rushing defense and allowed only 10.6 points per game.
One of the largest and strongest offensive lines in NFL history, the Hogs powered the Washington Redskins to three world championships under head coach Joe Gibbs.
The Steel Curtain was the backbone of Pittsburgh Steelers teams that won four Super Bowls in six years from 1974 to 1980. A play on the Cold War’s Iron Curtain, the name depicted one of the best defensive lines ever assembled. The name is still in use at Heinz Field today.
The Jets front four of the early 1980s was dubbed the New York Sack Exchange. The unit consisted of Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons, Abdul Salaam and Mark Gastineau, who celebrates his 62nd birthday today.
The 1982 Miami Dolphins featured six of 11 starters with a last name that started with the letter “B.” Known as the Killer Bee’s, this stingy unit swarmed over opponents, allowed only 131 points in nine games during the strike-shortened season.
Before he was an acquitted murderer, O.J. Simpson was a Buffalo Bills running back known as Juice. The offensive line that gave him room to run [or turned on the juice] was known as the Electric Company. Led by Joe DeLamielleure and Reggie McKenzie, this unit helped set an NFL single-season rushing record in 1973.
The Dome Patrol was the linebacking corps of the New Orleans Saints during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The heart of one of the most formidable 3-4 defenses ever to take the field, the group included the great Sam Mills, Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling and Vaughn Johnson. The unit – rated by NFL Network as the top linebacking corps in history — played together for seven seasons, combining for 18 Pro Bowls.