In recent months, something that often doesn’t get much attention has suddenly been receiving a lot; the nickname of an NFL franchise has been front-page news, stirring debate across the country.
While arguing that issue is a different topic for a different day, the discussion has raised an interesting question: What’s in a name? More specifically, why are teams called what they are called?
It’s question that the editors at cover32 had been pondering when another query was put forth: What franchises have the best nicknames?
With that in mind, the editors at cover32 gathered to assemble this week’s Power Rankings, rating each NFL team nickname from one to 32. Here are the results:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers – The city of Pittsburgh is famous for one thing: Making steel. So it makes perfect sense to name the hard-nosed team from the hard-nosed town after the hard-nosed men who make the city’s most-notable product.
2. San Francisco 49ers – It’s a one-of-a-kind name, impossible for other teams in other sports in other cities to copy, since it’s directly connected to the California Gold Rush that caused San Francisco to boom in 1849.
3. Dallas Cowboys – It’d be tough to find a nickname that better represents the area that a team calls home, as the Cowboys just embody the state of Texas and all that the western lifestyle represents in the minds of people across America.
4. New England Patriots – Given that the team plays in an area that was in the center of activity during the American Revolution, it’d be nearly impossible to come up with a more appropriate nickname.
5. Green Bay Packers – The name is derived from one of the franchise’s original sponsors, the Acme Packing Company, which is kind of cool. Plus, it represents that blue-collar mentality that both the team and its fans embrace.
6. New Orleans Saints – This nickname pays tribute to the legendary jazz music tradition in the Big Easy, which means it could only really work for the Crescent City. It’s relevant and unique, a very strong combination.
7. Miami Dolphins – There aren’t a ton of other teams bearing this name, which gives it high marks for originality. Plus, it goes perfectly with the team’s location in south Florida. It’s a nearly perfect fit on every front.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – In the 17th century, pirates often raided the coasts of Florida, which gives this nickname great historical significance in the Tampa area. It carries a little swagger and the moniker is a winner.
9. Kansas City Chiefs – A professional sports team can be named in honor of Native Americans; it just has to be done with some tact, as Lamar Hunt proved when he named his franchise the Chiefs in 1963.
10. Denver Broncos – Given the western image that the Mile High City tends to carry, a team name that represents wild horses roaming the open range is a pretty perfect fit for a team playing in what was once a dusty, cow town.
11. Philadelphia Eagles – Philadelphia has played a central role in the development of the United States, a country that boasts an eagle as one of its primary symbols. So the city and the nickname go together perfectly.
12. Minnesota Vikings – While Vikings never actually set foot in Minnesota, the nickname was chosen because it represented the type of person who could brave the northern winters. Being proud of being hearty is a cool thing.
13. Baltimore Ravens – Yes, it seems a little weird that a football team is named after a poem. But once the initial shock has worn off, it’s kind of nice that the good folks of Baltimore chose to honor Edgar Allen Poe, who is buried in Charm City.
14. Seattle Seahawks – Sure, it’s a fictional creature, but that doesn’t really matter. After all, the name paints a picture in the minds of fans. Who can’t imagine a vicious bird of prey combing the waters of Puget Sound? It’s fake, but somehow works.
15. Chicago Bears – George Halas picked this name because his team was playing in Wrigley Field, the home of the Cubs, so he wanted to stick with the theme. Plus, it ties in well with the stock market connection in the Windy City.
16. Oakland Raiders – While the image of the Raiders is second to none in sports, the nickname itself doesn’t make a ton of sense. That’s because it only came about because newspapers at the time couldn’t type an accent over the “n” in Señors.