The NFL has been filled with a number of interesting characters in its history and colorful names. The United States is a country blessed with a number of cultural backgrounds, which is reflected in the names of players that have come through the league during its tenure. We’ll now look at ten of the most interesting names to have caught the eye.
10. Dick Butkus
The name is the epitome of the position he played and defined during his Hall of Fame career. It sounds a name needed by a tough, strong, robust player. Butkus was all that and more, playing in the middle of the Chicago Bears’ defense for nine seasons. He was named to the Pro Bowl in eight of his nine years in the league, along with six First-Team All-Pro berths.
Butkus created and defined the position of middle linebacker. Few players have been able to match his tenacity, physicality and intelligence in the role. The name sums up the man and does have a slight element of humour, although at 6ft 3in and 245lbs, there were not many opponents mocking Butkus to his face.
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9. Earthwind Moreland
The cornerback’s parents could possibly be fans of Earth, Wind and Fire, but he was not born on the 21st of September… Moreland was a journeyman in his NFL career, bouncing around several teams in the 2000s, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and the New England Patriots.
He was part of the Patriots’ team that triumphed in Super Bowl XXXIX against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the high point of his career, which ended in 2006.
8. Nick Toon
The son of former New York Jets receiver Al was named Nick at birth, bearing an unfortunate likening to the spinoff of children’s television channel, Nickelodeon.
Nick did not enjoy the same success in the NFL as his father did, struggling to make an impact in four seasons. He caught one touchdown in two seasons with the Saints, missing another due to injury. Toon signed for the Rams in 2015, but was cut the following year and has not signed with a team since.
7. Captain Munnerlyn
The cornerback has been a safe pair of hands during his 10 years in the NFL. He has enjoyed two spells in the Carolina Panthers defense between 2009 and 2013, and then again for the last two seasons, although he is currently a free agent at the age of 31.
Munnerlyn has been a reliable figure in the secondary, displaying the ability to tackle and cover to good effect. He’s not quite been Captain Marvel, but a solid enough player to earn a healthy living at one of the most difficult positions in football.
6. Frostee Rucker
Not to be confused with the famous breakfast cereal, Rucker carved out a solid career in the NFL after being drafted in the third round in 2009. The defensive tackle clogged the middle of the line as a run-stopping force for several years for the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and the Arizona Cardinals. The best years of his career came in Arizona under Bruce Arians. Ironically escaping the cold sometimes frosty climates of Ohio to the heat of the desert in Arizona was a strong move for Rucker.
5. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
The running back was nicknamed “law firm” during his career in the NFL. He proved to be an efficient player in spells with the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals. Green-Ellis worked hard after being undrafted in 2008, earning a spot on the Patriots’ roster.
He served time as an understudy before becoming the starter in New England. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2010, scoring 13 touchdowns. Green-Ellis added another 11 scores in 2011 before joining the Bengals. The “law firm” played another two seasons in the NFL before his tenure ended in 2013. A solid player with a memorable name in the backfield.
4. D’Brickashaw Ferguson
When protecting the blindside of your franchise quarterback, general managers and coaches want a strong, stout left tackle to keep pass-rushers at bay. Based solely on the name D’Brickashaw, the New York Jets were on to a winner with the offensive tackle.
He was selected fourth overall in the 2006 Draft and provided 10 years of solid play for the AFC East outfit. Ferguson reached the height of his career under Rex Ryan between 2009 and 2011, reaching the Pro Bowl in three straight seasons. He lived up to his name before retiring after the 2015 campaign.
3. Chad Ochocinco
Ochocinco, originally Johnson, was one of the most interesting characters of the 2000s in the NFL. He was a larger than life presence playing for the Cincinnati Bengals as one of the leading wide receivers of the decade. He enjoyed a great deal of success for the Bengals, reeling off six straight seasons of 1,000 receiving yards donning the jersey number 85.
As a result of his performances, he changed his last name to Ochocinco in 2008, reflective of the Spanish definition of his jersey number.
The wideout kept the name for four years before an underwhelming spell at the New England Patriots brought him back down to earth. He reverted back to Johnson, although his career in the NFL ended after an ill-fated spell during training camp with the Miami Dolphins.
2. Barkevious Mingo
The Cleveland Browns were hopeful of boasting a ferocious pass-rusher on their hands when they selected Mingo sixth overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.
However, his bark was worse than his bite… Mingo’s career did not live up to expectations, although he has managed to revive his career as a tackling linebacker as well as special teams play in spells with the Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks.
His curious name has kept him in the headlines now and again always causing commentators a moment to pause. Mr and Mrs Mingo were quite creative in the name department, allegedly calling another one of their sons Hughtavious.
1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Clinton-Dix prefers to be referred to as Ha Ha rather than his given name Ha’Sean. However, the power of the safety is no laughing matter, who brings the heat with his tackling downfield. Clinton-Dix was a standout under Nick Saban at the Alabama Crimson Tide and was selected in the first round of the 2014 Draft by the Green Bay Packers.
He excelled for four seasons before being traded to the Washington Redskins. Clinton-Dix has since moved to the Chicago Bears on a one-year deal. The 26-year-old was named to the Pro Bowl in the 2016 season, and could return as part of the Bears’ vaunted defense in the next campaign.