NFL Team Name Power Rankings, Part 1

Remember when you played in your local youth soccer or basketball league and the team got to name itself? *Chuckles from everyone reading.* I personally played on noteworthy clubs like the Green Geckos, Silver Streak and the Dream Team, and all of them had sweet custom banners that helped guide players to the most important part of the experience: the post-game snacks and Gatorades.

NFL players aren’t lucky enough to be able to name their teams, but I’m sure some of them would want to with some of the sub-par offerings currently in existence. There are others that are so awesome that they might in fact help a team play better on the field.

We’ll start at the bottom of the barrel and work our way up. Special thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for its handy guide to team nicknames in helping compose this article.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Awful Animal Names 
32. Cincinnati Bengals
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Carolina Panthers
29. Arizona Cardinals
28. Buffalo Bills

What a mess.

Let’s begin with the Bengals. Owner Paul Brown paid homage to an American Football League team that played in Cincinnati with the same mascot when he named them in 1967. But instead of looking back, he should have thought ahead and realized that people could easily call his team the Bungles when they weren’t playing all that well (which has been often).

The bengal isn’t the only other big cat that makes for a terrible nickname – the Jaguars and Panthers are culprits too. Part of it is that there is nothing even close to resembling a big cat in the Southeastern United States, part of it is their uniforms suck and part of it is that I’m not a cat person. About the only redeeming thing I can think of for either of them is the nice alliteration of Jacksonville and Jaguars together. The people of Jacksonville who chose the name must be suckers for good English.

The Cardinals allegedly were not even named after the bird, but because they purchased maroon jerseys from the University of Chicago that their team owner at the time remarked were not faded red, but “cardinal” red. Plus, they have the same name as one of the best baseball franchises in the world. It’s the equivalent of a cricket team in Great Britain being named United.

The Bills were named after Buffalo Bill Cody, inspired by the fact that a new sports frontier was being explored in Western New York. Willis McGahee sure thought it was a frontier, alright. I get the valiant effort to make the name meaningful, but at the end of the day, what is a Bill? If it represented money, like dollar bills, that would have been awesome. Think of all the great catch phrases that could have been: “Man, Stevie Johnson be paying the Bills today…” or when they the team brought their dollar defensive package in, “Dollar dollar Bills y’all….”

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these teams are among the worst in the NFL, record-wise.

Names That Don’t Make Much Sense
27. Cleveland Browns
26. New York Giants
25. Tennessee Titans

It’s just confusing for American children that are trying to learn their colors when the football team named the Browns has an orange helmet. And similar to the Bills, what is a Brown? The last name of the their first coach and general manager, that’s what it is. But before you go thinking that Paul Brown was a narcissist, he tried to veto the fan contest that was trying to name the team after him but was denied when the Cleveland Panthers name that he preferred was already owned by a local businessman. Too bad it was. But then again, we already decided that Panthers is a terrible name for an NFL team.

I don’t like the Giants much for a name because there’s not much you can do with the logo/colors and the name was borrowed from the baseball team in the city. How unimaginative. Plus, you can’t really be a giant in New York because you wouldn’t fit into any of the closet-sized apartments.

And Bud Adams, you move your football team to Nashville and Titans is all you can come up with? You could have been legendary decided to name your team the Frontmen, the Kings (a tribute to Elvis), the Fugitives (a famous group of poets that resided there) or the Goo Goos (a delicious candy that is made in the city). There’s still time to be legendary, Bud.

CJ doesn't look like a Titan there, does he? Via Wikimedia Commons

Titans like to sit on their helmets apparently. Via Wikimedia Commons

24. Houston Texans
23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Not only were these team names selected by the decidedly boring way of committee vote, but the end results were also decidedly boring. The Buccaneers. Woo hoo. Named after the pirates who used to frequent Florida’s coast in the 17th century. And the Texans? Way too redundant for my taste. If you live in Houston, then you’re obviously a Texan. But then again, Houston natives probably want to take every opportunity to tell you that they are from Texas, right?

Animal Names That Aren’t Awful
22. Indianapolis Colts
21. St. Louis Rams
20. Miami Dolphins
19. Detroit Lions
18. Philadelphia Eagles

This group of animals are much better than the first batch we discussed. They also offer a few fun history lessons. The Lions were named as such because their owner wanted the team to be the “monarch of the league” just like the lion is the monarch of the jungle. Cute. The Dolphins were named the Dolphins because their owner liked that they were one of the fastest and smartest creatures in the sea. They are also my favorite show at Sea World. The Eagles were chosen because the bird was the symbol of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program, and original owner Bert Bell wanted his team to be headed for a new deal as well. Alright, that’s all I got.

Should Be Renamed “The Griffins”
17. Washington Redskins

It would solve the controversy about having a derogatory term being used for an NFL team name while paying homage to RGIII for saving the franchise. Win-win.

Comment below with your objections and check back for Part 2 tomorrow.