Today I was sitting at my house thinking of some awesome nicknames for football players and I had 12 names that came to my head that I believe every young football fan should remember.
12. Hardy Nickerson – “El Dragon” – Nickerson spent four seasons (1996-99) playing under then-Buccaneers linebackers coach, Lovie Smith, earning a Pro Bowl berth in all four seasons, averaging 137 per season, while adding eight forced fumbles, 5.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries and four interceptions.
11. Billy Johnson – “White Shoes” – As a kick returner, Johnson returned five punts for touchdowns, along with two kickoffs, in his first four years with the Oilers, and added 12 more touchdowns on offense. He was selected to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner in 1975, and was named MVP of the game, during which he returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown.
10. Christian Okoye – “Nigerian Nightmare” – Okoye retired as the Chiefs’ all-time rushing leader, having amassed 4,897 yards, 1,246 attempts, and 14 games with at least 100 yards rushing, in his six seasons.
9. Joe Namath – “Broadway Joe” – Namath was the American Football League Rookie of the year in 1965 and became the first professional quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards in a season (1967) when he threw for 4,007 yards in a 14-game season, a record broken by Dan Fouts in 1979 (4,082) in a 16-game season. He was a four-time American Football League All-Star, in 1965, 1967, 1968, and 1969.
8. Dick Lane – “Night Train” – He played six seasons in Detroit (1960–65) and recorded 21 interceptions for 272 yards and one touchdown. He was All-NFL four times (1960–63) and was named to the Pro Bowl three times (1961–63).
7. David Jones – “Deacon” – ones won consensus All-Pro honors five straight years from 1965 through 1969 and was second-team All-Pro in 1964, 1970, and 1972. He was also in seven straight Pro Bowls, from 1964 to 1970, and was selected to an eighth after the 1972 season with the San Diego Chargers.
6. William Perry – “Refrigerator” – Perry went on to play for ten years in the NFL, retiring after the 1994 season. In his ten years as a pro, he regularly struggled with his weight, which hampered his performance at times. He played in 138 games, recording 29.5 sacks and five fumble recoveries, which he returned for a total of 71 yards.
5. Joe Greene – “Mean” – His end stats were 181 games, 78.5 sacks (unofficially, as sacks were not an official statistic until 1982) and 16 fumble recoveries. Joe Greene had 190 tackles in 1978.
4. Ed Jones – “Too Tall” – According to the Cowboys’ stats, Jones is unofficially credited with a total of 106 quarterback sacks (third most in team history) and officially with 57. He is the fifth leading tackler in franchise history with 1,032.
3. Elroy Hirsch – “Crazy Legs” – He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968 with a career 387 receptions, 7,029 yards, and 60 touchdowns.
2. Walter Payton – “Sweatness” – Over his entire career, Payton rushed for 16,726 yards, which broke the record for most rushing yards by any NFL player in history, and scored 110 touchdowns. He caught 492 passes for 4,538 yards and 15 touchdowns. Payton set several team records, including most career rushing yards, receptions, touchdowns, and touchdown passes by a running back. His jersey number was retired by the Bears, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
1. Deion Sanders – “Neon Deion/Primetime” – During his career, Sanders intercepted 53 passes for 1,331 yards (a 25.1 yards per return average), recovered four fumbles for 15 yards, returned 155 kickoffs for 3,523 yards, gained 2,199 yards on 212 punt returns, and caught 60 passes for 784 yards. Sanders amassed 7,838 all-purpose yards and scored 22 touchdowns: nine interception returns, six punt returns, three kickoff returns, three receiving, and one fumble recovery. His 19 defensive and return touchdowns are an NFL record. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls in 1991–1994, 1996–1999. He was also awarded the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1994.