Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gridiron Greats Known By Another Name

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-Digger's Daily-

Yesterday, the focus was on nicknames for teams of the gridiron. Today, I'm focusing on some of the most well known players past and present who were given names which stuck in fans memory banks. Some stars were better known by their nicknames instead of birth names ("Too Tall" Jones, "Mean Joe" Greene and "The Bus").

The Nigerian Nightmare - KC Chiefs bruising RB Christian Okoye fierce head first pounding style quickly became a fan favorite. Led NFL in rushing attempts (370) and yards (1480) in 1989.

Joe Cool - Perhaps the best pressure QB of all time, Joe Montana guided San Francisco to 4 Super Bowl Championships and was named Super Bowl MVP 3 times. 117-47 career record as starting QB. Field general of West Coast Offense which has been emulated by many teams after 49ers successes.

Mean Joe - Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame DT. Little known fact, Joe Greene's birth name is Charles Edward Greene. One of most feared NFL defenders of his generation while playing for Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain defense.

The Frige (Refrigerator) - Nickname given to large Chicago Bears defensive lineman William Perry. He was somewhat of a celebrity due to his size. Often lined up as a blocking fullback in goal line situations leading the way for Hall of Fame RB Walter Payton during Bears 1985 Super Bowl season.

Sweetness - Legendary Bears RB Walter Payton. His evasive style was second to none. Retired as NFL's All Time leader in rushing yards (16,726).

Too Tall Jones - Dallas Cowboys 6'9" DE Ed Jones helped anchor one of NFC's toughest defense of the 70's & 80's. Took up a short lived boxing career after NFL.
Three Amigos - Denver Broncos WR's of 80's/90's. Mark Jackson, Vance Johnson & Ricky Nattiel.

Triplets - Dallas Cowboys 3 time Super Bowl winning trio featuring Hall of Famers QB Troy Aikman & WR Michael Irvin & soon to be HOFer RB Emmitt Smith.

The Playmaker - Name earned by Cowboys WR Michael Irvin for his game changing plays against defenses keying on him.

Flash 80 - Jerry Rice. NFL's All Time greatest WR. Holds many NFL receiving records set while playing most of his games for the San Francisco 49ers dynasty.

Marks Brothers - Miami Dolphins speedy WR's Mark Clayton & Mark Duper. They paved the way for many of QB Dan Marino's NFL records and lone Super Bowl appearance.

The Diesel - Former Jets and Redskins FB/RB John Riggins. Set NFL single season rushing TD record of 24 in 1983 (since broken).

Ageless Wonder - Washington Redskins CB Darrell Green who played hard on every down during 20 NFL seasons.

Roger the Dodger & Comeback Kid - Navy and Dallas Cowboys star QB Roger Staubach had 2 nicknames. Known as Roger the Dodger for elusive scrambling away from defenders. Comeback Kid for miraculous 4th quarter comebacks in big games.

Matty Ice - Current Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan earned his stripes as a rookie last season leading Atlanta to Wild Card appearance.

The Juice - OJ Simpson. Record setting Hall of Fame RB, actor and convict.

The Posse - Washington Redskins late 80's/early 90's steady WR trio of Art Monk, Gary Clark, and Ricky Sanders.

Scramblin' Fran - NY Giants/Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkington for his ability to scramble away from defenders. Sometimes for big gains, sometimes big losses.

The Snake - Southpaw Ken Stabler received this name while playing QB for Oakland Raiders bruising teams of 70's for his twisting & turning avoidance of defenders to get off big passes.

Smurfs - Redskins small speedy WR trio (all under 6') Gary Clark, Alvin Garrett, and Charlie Brown who played large making big catch after big catch against defenders often taller and while double teamed.

Prime Time - Multi-team, multi-position Deion Sanders was one of NFL's fastest men and was capable of scoring every time he touched the football. CB was primary position, also returned kicks and lined up as WR. Dual sport star also played Major League Baseball. Neon Deion was another nickname given to this flashy player who loved showing off his skills.

Player nicknames stretch far and wide. I'm sure to have left quite a few off of this abbreviated list. If you don't see your favorites, feel free to chime in on our comments section. Next installment will feature nicknames of NFL places (stadiums) and fan clubs.

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