I like to collect names and store them away for future characters in books I will never write. The National Football League is a veritable gold mine of great names. I can easily get distracted during a game by an amazing name like Oshiomogho Atogwe and wonder about the origins, the correct pronunciation and what their childhood friends called them. Cam Newton is a soap opera name if I’ve ever heard one. Of course, like the rest of the world, the NFL is swamped with Jasons, Justins, Joshs and James. I’m a devoted Rams fan but I have trouble keeping some of the players straight because their names are so similar.
I have my favorites though. Names so evocative that sometimes it’s hard to remember they’re football players. Here are my favorites:
5. Jermichael Finley – Green Bay
This name is melodic and is a refreshing change from the ordinary Michael. Not that there’s anything wrong with Michael. It’s solid and strong. My own husband is named Michael so it’s a name I love but sometimes I do like to mix it up and will say, “Hamburgers or hotdogs, Jermichael?” or “Hey Jermichael, have you seen the cat?”.
4. Julius Peppers – Chicago
Omg…who wouldn’t want to hang with Julius Peppers? It has to be the happiest name in the NFL. Julius Peppers tells the best jokes, has the best dance moves and in general is a spot of sunshine on a cloudy day. Of course I don’t know if the real Julius Peppers is any of that but I do know that he has a career as a Vegas magician just waiting for him post-football.
3. Bob Sanders – San Diego
Bob Sanders is simply the coolest, hippest insurance agent in the Midwest. He’ll make you a great deal on home, health, life or auto.
2. Jason Pierre-Paul – New York Giants
C’mon, dude’s got himself three first names! And one of them is French! He’s a folk trio all by himself! I can just hear his mom now – “Jason Pierre-Paul get in this house this minute!”. And any player whose name stretches from shoulder to shoulder across his jersey gets a big thumbs up from me.
1. Pierre Garçon – Indianapolis
Pierre Garçon designs beautiful haute couture when he’s not catching passes for the Colts. He also knows every masterpiece in the Louve and makes a mean Croque Monsieur. He off-seasons in Paris.
Honorable Mention: London Fletcher – Washington
His name is London. Nuff said.
It’s glorious these exciting, unusual or sometimes surprisingly unadorned names you find in football. The plain one, the one with all the apostrophes, the one impossible to pronounce. And I admire the on-air talent who mostly seem to get it right. I know I might be reduced to something like “I’m so sorry to hear about the tragic death of your beloved grandmother who raised you from birth, #83.”
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