Packers and Texans and Browns, Oh My: Best and Worst NFL Team Nicknames

By Zach Dammel

Of all the major sports leagues, the NFL has the most boring team names. I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize a few of the worst and disparage them. For the sake of balance, however, I’ll also MacGyver some reasons for why a few of the others are sobriquet gold.


Patriots: Of the people, for the people, by the people. The New England Patriots. Until 1971, they were the Boston Patriots. But apparently that moniker didn’t lay claim to enough of the thirteen original colonies. So “Boston” became “New England”. I would say they should’ve just gone the whole nine and called themselves the United States Patriots. I would say that…if the term “New England” didn’t sound so darn historically significant. It makes it sound as if, resting their bellies after the First Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe shared the First First Down courtesy of celebrity quarterback Thomas Bradford. I hear Christopher Columbus even had a stint at wide receiver, but an irreconcilable contract dispute over the amount of guaranteed golden doubloons cut short his promising career.

(Paul Revere at center)

Packers: All the way back in 1919, the Indian Packing Company gave Earl Louis “Curly” Lambeau $500 for uniforms and equipment on the condition that his new team would be named after its sponsor. But they didn’t choose “Indians”. No, they chose to honor those who packed the meat. And, instead of having a mascot, they decided to just put large foam triangles of swiss cheese on their heads. We need more teams like this. More teams should be named after people with crystal-clear job descriptions and more teams should feature items of food in lieu of mascots. My logic is cemented in the following formula: celebration of labor + glorification of food = success in football. Mathematically proven? No. But neither is the Gatorade formula and it might work. As for the “Cheeseheads”, Wikipedia adds that: “It has also been referred to as a ‘Cheese Hat’ since it is legally a hat.” Dairy-related headgear with legal implications. Modestly unglamorous and easy-to-understand nickname. It’s no wonder Green Bay has four Superbowl titles.

Saints: An amalgamation of circumstances make this one a perfect fit. New Orleans was awarded their pro football franchise on November 1, 1966. That’s All Saints Day. And those celebrated on that day happen to be the subject of one of the most famous songs of the renowned New Orleans jazz scene. That’s “When the Saints Go Marching In”. The stars were aligned. In fact, the saints probably aligned them. Because heaven borders the stars. That’s geography.



Texans: On that same topic, if your knowledge of geography isn’t what it should be, the Houston Texans are the team for you. Don’t know where Houston is? The organization planted a hint: Texans live there. One gleeful parent said of the team name: “My kids love it because it gives them two chances to grasp the material!” And it’s not redundant if it’s in the name of learning… What’s this?! I’m being told that the Houston Texans are not named for educational purposes. Then why? Well, when the Houston Oilers left for Tennessee in 1997, Houston wanted its next team to appeal to a broader region. Very much like the New England Patriots – who, as you’ll note, didn’t settle on the name Boston Massachusettsans. I guess the hope with “Texans” was to win over some gullible and confused Cowboys fans. Because not all Texans are Cowboys, but all stereotyped Cowboys are Texans. Note: if you’re a cowboy reading this from a state besides Texas, please don’t blow the ruse.

Browns: Beautiful imagery abounds in Cleveland. It’s always a gamble to name a team after a man (Paul Brown, first coach and GM) whose last name is a color. Unless of course it’s everyone’s favorite color. Unless of course it’s the color of chocolate milk, gophers, and nutrient-rich soil. Unless of course it’s brown. Science would tell us that all the colors combined make white. But finger paint experiments conducted by a one-time certified toddler (me) tell us otherwise. They tell us that all the colors combined make pure, unadulterated Cleveland brown.

(new logo recommendation)

Redskins: I don’t know where I stand on this issue and I don’t want politics to infiltrate an otherwise light-hearted article. That said, just change the name. It can’t be hard – it’s Washington D.C. Between all the members of all those branches of government, someone should be able to come up with a pretty clever alternative. Red Zones, Pigskins, anything. Heck, call them the Red Lobsters. They can all wear bibs instead of pads. Just check to make sure the lobsters are cool with it first.

Thus concludes the third and final installation of ‘Oh My’ sports team nicknames. Check out the infinitely more exciting MLB and NBA editions here:

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