While the football world mourns the passing of legendary running back Cookie Gilchrist, we not only lose a great pioneer of the sport — both on and off the field — but we also are reminded of a time when NFL nicknames were really cool.
Too often, our generation has taken to just shortening a player’s name (A-Rod or L.T.) and calling it a day. Where has the creativity gone, America?
With that in mind, here are the six coolest nicknames in NFL history:
6. Mean Joe Greene: Sometimes the simplest nicknames are the best. The legend is that the Steelers fan base thought the nickname of the North Texas football team — “The Mean Green” — was actually Joe’s nickname. But hey, it fits.
5. Slingin’ Sammy: The Redskins’ Sammy Baugh was one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but he received his name from a Texas sportswriter because of his exploits on the baseball field at Texas Christian University.
4. The Galloping Ghost: Bears RB Harold “Red” Grange actually should get bonus points for having two great nicknames. The “Galloping Ghost” was penned by famed Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown for the way the Hall of Famer moved on the field.
3. Sweetness: Bears RB Walter Payton retired as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, but got his nickname while at Jackson State University. Most believe that “Sweetness” was an ironic nickname because of his thrashing running style. Payton also had a larger-than-life personality off the field to match.
2. Deacon Jones: Just the single name of “Deacon” struck fear into opposing quarterbacks during the 1960s. David “Decon” Jones was another player who earned duel nicknames, also being known as the “Secretary of Defense.” Hall of Fame coach George Allen called Jones the most valuable Rams player of all time.
1. Crazylegs Hirsh: Los Angeles Rams WR Elroy Hirsh earned his nickname at the University of Wisconsin when Chicago Daily News reporter Francis Powers wrote, “His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions, all at the same time; he looked like a demented duck.” That running style made him a very popular sports star in Los Angeles in the 1950s.
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite nicknames in NFL history? And are there any cool nicknames for active players that might make the list?