Monday, March 14, 2011


Whatever happened to all the great nicknames in sports? Have
sportswriters and athletes lost their creativity, interest, or have they
just gotten lazy? Look at the nicknames of today and you'll see what
I'm talking about.

It's A-Rod, K-Rod, and Rich Rod. At least in the '80's, there
was some imagination. "Big Country", "Big Unit, and "Big Cat",
had some real flavor.

Today, it's all about the first initial and hyphen. V-Mart, F-Mart,
K-Mart and.... ah, you get the picture. Boring. No imagination or
serious thought. Embarrassing.

When I played baseball at UNC in the early 80's, everybody on
the team had nicknames. Good ones, too. There was Al "the Grinch"
Taylor, Mitch "Yard Bird" McCleney, Walt "The Peanut Man" Weiss,
Paul Will "Bowl-o-fries", and Doug Torborg, whom we called
"Mr. Make Believe".

Perhaps, nicknames have just gone the way of the Rubik's cube,
Monopoly, and Pac-Man. They were wildly popular at one time,
a lot of fun, challenging, yet rewarding. But they just lost their sizzle and
people had enough of them.

Looking back, I think the 70's spawned arguably, the best nicknames the
sports world has ever heard. In baseball, there was Mark "The Bird"
Fidrych, John "Blue Moon" Odom, Jim "Catfish" Hunter,
John "The Count of" Montefusco, and Bill "Mad Dog" Madlock.

There were no shortage of great nicknames in hockey, either. We saw
the likes of Bobby "The Golden Jet" Hull, Yvan "The Roadrunner"
Cournoyer,  Ken "The Rat" Linesman" Chris "Knuckles" Nilan
Maurice "Rocket" Richard and his younger brother, Henri, who
was the "Pocket Rocket".

The Buffalo Sabres had "the French Connection",  a line made up
of Rick Martin, Gilbert Perreault, and  Rene Robert. The French
Connection?!! Now, that's a nickname.

That's when hockey was real hockey, played without helmets
and visors. Fights were as much as the game as slap-shots, and
cities really identified with their team. The 1974 Philadelphia Flyers
were a tough team from a tough town, and they had their own
nickname, the "Broadstreet Bullies". They lived up to their nickname
with players who had some great ones.

Do you remember Dave "The Hammer" Schulz? How about
Bob "Battleship" Kelly? Or Andre "Moose" Dupont? Rick MacLeish
got the nickname "Hawk" because he was in a bar one night
and a lady came up to him and made fun of his nose, saying
he had a "Hawk" nose. Teammate Bill Clement witnessed the
event and the name stuck.

Does anybody in hockey even have a nickname these days? Can't think
of any that comes to mind. What's up with that? With the Internet,
blogs, webs sites, and hundreds of tv networks out there, you'd
think someone could come up with some original nicknames.

Where are the great nicknames in basketball? Shaquille O'Neal
seems to be the only one with any creativity. He coined himself,
"The Diesel" "Shaq Daddy", "The Big Aristotle", and most recently,
"The Big Leprechaun". At least he's trying.

At one time, even the NBA had beautiful nicknames like
George "The Ice Man" Gervin, Marvin "The Human Eraser"
Webster, Robert "The Chief" Parrish, Karl "The Mailman"
Malone. Nobody is "THE" anything anymore. It's just
K-this, P-that, T-this, and V-that.

Nicknames in the NFL seem to be a dying breed as well.
Back in the day, there was Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Jack "The
Assassin" Tatum, Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds, Mike "Mad
Dog" Curtis, Ted "The Stork" Hendricks, and Ernie
"Arrowhead" Holmes. Man, those were great nicknames.

Seriously, why can't we have nicknames like these anymore.
Does Peyton Manning have a nickname? Tom Brady? Great
players, and nothing. You mean nobody can come up
with a nickname for Ray Lewis? Just names. No nicknames.

NFL teams and units used to have nicknames, too. Remember
the "Purple People Eaters" of Minnesota? How bout the
No-Name Defense of Miami? Dallas had the "Doomsday"
defense.The defensive line of the New York Jets was called
"The Sack Exchange"  Can you name a team or defense that has a
great nickname today? Exactly.

Cars, computers, cameras...I mean everything gets better
over time, doesn't it? Don't people get smarter and more
creative? We need more colorful personalities in sports.
We need more sizzle. We really could use more great


  1. The problem now-a-days is that people give themselves nicknames. That is not how it should work. You earn a nickname. It is a right of passage. Maybe no one gives their buddies/teammates nicknames anymore because they don't play with the same bunch of guys long enough to earn them or maybe it is as simple as all the good ones have been taken??

  2. Oh I almost forgot . . . What about Lefty & Lazer. I guess they are still some out there!

  3. Funny blog!

    I remember a nickname from the past...does "Devildog" ring a bell?