Sideline Sobriquets: The Best NFL Nicknames


By: Nathan Chandler

5 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Football is serious business but it inspires many tall tales and legends, too. Many of the NFL's best players earn unforgettable (or hilarious) nicknames during their days on the gridiron. How much do you know about these football nicknames?

Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston earned which animal-themed nickname?

Johnston was a big, powerful fullback known as "Moose." He spent much of his career blasting holes for running back Emmitt Smith.


What is Johnny Manziel's nickname?

Manziel was a dazzling player in both high school and college, earning him the name "Johnny Football." He has yet to back up his reputation on an NFL field.


Linebacker Ray Lewis was known by which nickname?

Ray Lewis was simply "Ray Ray." He led a powerful Ravens defense for many years.


When running back Marshawn Lynch decided to plow through opponents, he was turning on which "mode"?

Lynch first called his savage running style "Beast Mode," and it became his most popular nickname. He was extremely popular with Seahawks fans.


"Megatron" played which position?

Calvin "Megatron" Johnson was a tall, powerful receiver for the Lions. In his prime, he was virtually unstoppable even when challenged by talented players in the secondary.


"The Fridge" played his prime years with which team?

William "Refrigerator" Perry was an enormous defensive lineman who played his best years with the Bears. At one point he weighed in excess of 330 pounds ... in an era when no one else was nearly that big.


"Mean" Joe Greene was a cruel person both on and off of the football field.

Mean Joe Greene was a hard-hitting defensive end for the Steelers in the 1970s. Off the field, though, he was known as an extremely nice person, and his big smile helped him land major product endorsement deals.


Jack Tatum was known as "The Assassin." Which position did he play?

Tatum was a safety who roamed the secondary, blasting anyone who got in his way. "The Assassin" hit Darryl Stingley so hard that the receiver was paralyzed.


Andre Rison got his nickname from a song by which rock band?

Andre was "Bad Moon" Rison thanks to an ESPN announcer who referenced CCR's "Bad Moon Rising," which was released in 1969.


Quarterback Joe Montana was often simply known as what?

Montana had ice in his veins even in the biggest games of his career. No matter the pressure, he was Joe Cool.


What was wide receiver Michael Irvin's nickname?

Irvin played for the Cowboys during their Super Bowl runs in the 90s. He could beat tight coverage and then make big plays, again and again.


One player had the nickname "Too Tall." What was his real first name?

Ed "Too Tall" Jones was a defensive end for the Cowboys in the 70s and 80s. At 6 feet 9 inches, he was indeed a massive presence on the field.


Thanks to his many clutch plays, Deion Sanders earned which nickname?

Sanders was "Prime Time," a cornerback who stepped into high-pressure situations time and again and managed to make the big play.


Why was Roger Staubach called "Roger the Dodger"?

Staubach had amazing pocket skills, sidestepping charging defenders seemingly at will. That ability made him Roger the Dodger.


Reggie White was known as the "minister" of what?

White was a punishing defensive end known as "The Minister of Defense." He was also an ordained minister.


How did Gilbert Brown earn his nickname, "The Gravedigger"?

Brown was a huge nose guard who frequently slammed ball carriers to the ground, after which he would perform his famous "grave digger" celebration.


"Smash and Dash" was a duo of running backs that played for which team?

LenDale White was Smash thanks to his power. Chris Johnson's speed made him Dash. Together, Smash and Dash played for the Titans, befuddling defenses time and again.


He was known as "The Rocket."

Raghib Ismail gained fame for his timely kick returns at Notre Dame. He then took his speed to the CFL and NFL, where opposing players struggled to keep up with "The Rocket."


John Riggins was known by what nickname?

Riggins was a powerful running back often called "Diesel" for his unstoppable chugging running style. His amazing durability allowed him to remain in the league well into his 30s.


For which team did "Broadway" Joe play?

"Broadway" Joe Namath played for the Jets, where he became well-known for his on-field dramatics and off-field flair.


What position did Christian ("The Nigerian Nightmare") Okoye play?

Okoye was a bulky fullback for the Chiefs. His punishing running style and blocking ability made him a nightmare for opposing defenses.


How did running back Elroy Hirsch earn his "Crazy Legs" nickname?

Hirsch played pro football after serving in the Marines during World War II. He had a weirdly distinctive running style that made other players call him "Crazy Legs."


Who earned "The Surgeon" nickname?

Aaron Rodgers has an uncanny ability to weave passes into the tightest openings. That's why he's "The Surgeon."


How did quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick earn his "Amish Rifle" nickname?

Fitzpatrick decided one year to grow out an unkempt beard. The look, paired with his powerful arm, made him the "Amish Rifle."


What was Harold Grange's nickname?

Grange's running ability earned him one of the most memorable nicknames of all-time -- "The Galloping Ghost." He played for New York and Chicago in the 1920s.


Wide receiver Torry Holt was known by which nickname?

Holt (aka Big Game) was the kind of player who always made the biggest plays when it really counted. He caught 74 touchdown passes in his NFL career.


He was "The Gunslinger."

Brett Favre was the epitome of a gunslinging-style QB. He took huge risks that sometimes failed … but other times turned his team's fading fortunes into lasting glory.


Darrelle Revis earned a nickname based on which land mass?

He is "Revis Island," because of his ability to blanket receivers. Even star receivers struggled to find room against Revis, leaving them stranded as if on a remote island.


What was quarterback Peyton Manning's nickname?

Manning was renowned for his ability to scan defenses, call audibles and essentially run the entire offense on his own. He was The Sheriff.


How did quarterback Ken Stabler earn his nickname, "The Snake"?

Stabler was more than six feet tall but he could scamper when he had to. One of his coaches dubbed him "The Snake" following a long, circuitous TD run.


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