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Nicknames: Where Have All The Great Ones Gone?

By Husker Fan On July - 7 - 2009

Sweetness.

All you need say is one simple word, and any football fan with a lick of fandom in them knows exactly who you are talking about. 

This is none other than the great Walter Payton.

The guy who broke Jim Brown’s infamous rushing total of 12,312 yards.  The man who ran with such power and grace that he epitomized the very name thrust upon him.

Where have these great nicknames gone?

Yes, I realize that the times have changed. They have changed so much that we can literally watch today’s greatest athletes during any game

or highlight

or commercial that the world sees fit. 

But, on the other hand, the times have also changed as to where athletes are now ’giving’ themselves nicknames. The Black Mamba. The Big Aristotle. We now even get corporations tagging players with names such as ‘King’, or commercials that tag you, as a fan, as a ‘Witness.’

Quit it already, please?

Bring me back the old nicknames in which players earned them by their play on the field, court, or surface of their choice. 

What happened to names like Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch? Or Red Grange “The Galloping Ghost.”  (Even Harold’s ‘known’ first name in Red, was a nickname)

Dick “Night Train” Lane. Jerome ‘Dizzy’ Dean.  Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown.  William “Refrigerator” Perry.  Julius “Dr. J” Erving.  Earvin “Magic” Johnson.  “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.  Willie Mays, “The Say Hey Kid.”  “Pistol” Pete Maravich.  Ted Williams “The Splendid Splinter.”  “The Mailman” Karl Malone.  “The Bronx Bomber.”  “Sugar” Ray Robinson and Leonard.  “Iron” Mike Tyson.  Muhammad Ali as the “Louisville Lip.”  Roberto Duran, “The Hands of Stone.”  “Charlie Hustle” played by Pete Rose. 

The names don’t stop at the individual player either. 

How about “The Purple People Eaters—the famed defensive line from the Minnesota Vikings?  How about the famed “Steel Curtain” from the Steelers Super Bowl Years in the ’70s or their undercard in the “Doomsday Defense” from Dallas? 

How about “The Four Horseman”?  What about “Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside” in Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis?

“The Monsters of the Midway”? 

“The Hogs” from Redskins fame?

Any thoughts on the “No Name Defense” from Dolphins lore? 

Heck, even scandals back in the day got better nicknames with such simple titles like the “Black Sox.”  

So I simply ask America: where are our nicknames?  The names we can label our star players with?

Where is our voice?  Where is our choice? 

Where is the ingenuity?  

Time for a new brand of nickname, especially for the new brand of athlete. Don’t give me initials like “A-Rod” and lame stuff like “ManRam.”  Give me “Air Jordan.”  Give me Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns.  

At the very least, give me something original.

Where have all the great nicknames gone? 

More importantly, where have all the nicknames gone that we absolutely, positively, without anything doubt in our mind know exactly what you are talking about.

That said, when I say “The Greatest,” you know exactly who I am talking about.

“Floats like a butterfly…….stings like a bee…..”  We need some of that, too.

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