I was just sitting here thinking of a blog topic this morning, and my mind started drifting (again) all along the NFL landscape.
We have great interest in all the teams in pro football, but seldom do we give any thought to how any team got its name.
After a while, we are so used to a reference that we give no thought to its origin.
Some of the NFL nicknames are of obvious origin, but there are a few unique aspects to some nicknames that I thought I would share, just for the fun of it.
The origin of the name “Broncos” for Denver’s pro football team came as the result of a contest; the name was chosen from 500 entries in a name-the-team contest in January 1960.
The name was suggested by Wrad M. Vining of Lakewood. However, this football team in not the first Denver Broncos. Denver’s 1921 entry in the Midwest Baseball League was also called the Broncos.
In the AFC West, the Chiefs went to Kansas City in 1963 (they played as the Dallas Texans from 1960-62), and in addition to the obvious Native American reference common to geographical location, they became the “Chief” team in Kansas City, instead of sharing space with the also-new Dallas Cowboys in that Texas city.
Most people now think of a Charger as a big white horse, a “Charger,” a charging steed, but that’s not how the team got its nickname. The Chargers began play in Los Angeles in 1960, and the first owner of the franchise was Barron Hilton, who owned the Hilton Hotel chain.
Believe it or not — but you might as well, because it’s true — the late 1950s was the period of time when the credit card was coming into being — you didn’t think it always existed, did you? – and companies were beginning to “charge” their hotel stays for employees. And that’s how the Chargers got their name. Really.
The Cincinnati Bengals franchise was to have the same initials as their founder’s first team — Paul Brown, of the Cleveland Browns. It is also no coincidence that the Bengals were orange.
While the nickname of the Pittsburgh Steelers is obvious to the Steel City, and the Philadelphia Eagles are also a longtime franchise, did you know that during the war years (please don’t say “which war?”) the two franchises merged for a time with the result being the “Steagles?”
After an ill-fated beginning as Titans, the New York AFL franchise wanted to take off like Jets.
Most people don’t realize that Chicago Bears and National Football League founder George Halas was both a pro baseball player, and a big baseball fan, as well. The Bears have their colors from the University of Illinois, and their name from the National League Cubs, both chosen by Mr. Halas, one of the most significant individuals in pro football history.
The Green Bay Packers, of course, were named for the meat-packing industry, a very boring nickname at the time and now one of sports’s most famous.
A lot of the teams that the Packers competed against back in the day didn’t survive, including the Columbus Panhandles, Rochester Jeffersons, Minneapolis Marines, Dayton Triangles, and Canton Bulldogs.
The Chicago Cardinals did, though, before becoming the St. Louis Cardinals, then the Phoenix Cardinals, then the Arizona Cardinals.
The Buffalo Bills obviously took their name from the great Wild West show entertainer, and first played in the old All-American Football Conference under the same name.
And just to mix our sports up a little bit, the Denver Nuggests were originally the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association, but the ABA-NBA merger produced two sets of Rockets, Denver’s and Houston’s and the Denver team had to change its nickname as part of the merger (the original owner of the Denver Rockets was Bill Ringsby, who operated the Ringsby Trucking Company, which had a rocket logo, hence the original nickname).
Thus, the Nuggets were re-born. I say re-born because the Nuggets are not the first NBA club with that name. Denver actually had a team very briefly in the 1940s, and that club was the original Denver Nuggets.
Which is also interesting in that the Colorado Rockies also are the second version of that name, but in an entirely different sport.
Denver’s first National Hockey League team was called the Colorado Rockies, and that team originally was the Kansas City Scouts.
It goes on and on.
Many people know that my favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees. And some people know they were called the Highlanders for a time.
But few know they were originally the Baltimore Orioles.
And today’s Baltimore Orioles were the St. Louis Browns.
And I’m stopping right there.
Thanks for reading.