The 10 Best Names in NFL History

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IMarch 13, 2012

The 10 Best Names in NFL History

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    "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," according to that famous William Shakespeare...doesn't he cover the Buccaneers for the Tampa Tribune

    We take that to mean the following: A name is just a name. 

    But names do have an amazing ability to capture our imagination and attention. 

    As great as he was, Dick Butkus' unique and memorable name was a part of his legacy. 

    But for the purposes of this list, the most interesting names, however, have an incredible way of describing that person, or at least their style of play. 

    There's just a special and ironic correlation between these 10 players and their roles on the football field. 


    Note: My definition of "best name" means no nicknames! Rock Cartwright and Fred "the Hammer" Williamson don't qualify. 

No. 10. Patrick Pass, RB

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    Career: 2000-06

    Teams: New England Patriots

    I suppose this name would be better suited to a quarterback or wide receiver, but a running back with the last name "Pass" is a great fit.

    Pass caught 66 passes for the Pats during the early years of their dynasty, including one for a touchdown during New England's division-clinching victory over Miami in Week 15. 

No. 9. Joey Goodspeed, RB

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    Career: 2002-06

    Teams: San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings

    A running back named "Goodspeed"?! Outstanding!

    And in this running back's case, the name couldn't have been more apt. Tthe Notre Dame product had good speed, not great speed. He ran a 4.8 at the combine, so he turned out to be more of a fullback than a ball-carrier.

    But he did score a rushing touchdown in 2004 and nabbed 11 receptions, so he put that good speed to work. 

No. 8. Quentin Jammer, CB

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    Career: 2002-present

    Teams: San Diego Chargers

    Sure, a cornerback's primary job is to cover receivers and use their speed to silence the opponent's passing game.

    But a secondary part of their job is to make it difficult for receivers to get a free release off the line of scrimmage. They have that small window in which they can put their hands on the receiver in front of them, or jam them.

    So it's a nice piece of irony that the Chargers have had a starting corner named Jammer, who has been very successful in a decade with the club. 

No. 7. A.J. Hawk, LB

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    Career: 2006-present

    Teams: Green Bay Packers

    A linebacker who is a ball hawk is a tremendous asset to a defense. 

    After all, the job of a linebacker is to pursue the football, whether it's been thrown, handed off or is in the arms of a quarterback ready to throw.

    Hawk has been doing that as well as anyone in the NFL for the past six years. He's shown an ability to rush the passer (10.5 sacks), bring down ball-carriers (an average of 70 tackles per season) and create turnovers (eight interceptions). 

    Definitely a ball hawk. 

No. 6. Bruce Armstrong, OT

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    Career: 1987-2000  

    Teams: New England Patriots

    A blindside tackle needs great feet, intelligence and quickness. But more so than anything, they need to be able to plant a defensive end or blitzing linebacker in the ground. 

    And that takes pure upper-body strength. This cornerstone of the Patriots certainly had that—yes, his arms were strong.

    Six pro bowls, 212 starts and his number No. 78 jersey has since been retired.

    From the day he entered the NFL, Drew Bledsoe certainly appreciated Armstrong's strong arms.

No. 5. Junior Seau, LB

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    Career: 1990-2009

    Teams: San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots

    What does a linebacker love more than making the big hit? Probably nothing.

    And at the risk of roaming into the territory that has the Saints in such trouble these days, let's just say defenders also like to punish and bruise opposing ball-carriers. 

    Well, this 10-time All-Pro definitely made countless running backs and quarterbacks say "oww!"

No. 4. Will Shields, G

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    Career: 1993-2006

    Teams: Kansas City Chiefs

    An offensive lineman's most important job? Shielding ball-carriers from defenders. 

    And in the late 1990s and early 2000s, no one did that better than this Chiefs guard. 

    Shields went to an incredible 12 straight Pro Bowls and was named to nine All-Pro teams. 

    For Joe Montana, Steve Bono, Rich Gannon, Warren Moon, Trent Green, Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, Will was a phenomenal shield

No. 3. Mike Quick, WR

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    Career: 1982-90 

    Teams: Philadelphia Eagles

    Other than a wide receiver whose last name is "Hands," this might be the perfect handle for the position.

    Not only does a wide receiver need quickness to make something happen with the football after the grab, but just to get open, they often need some shiftiness to elude the coverage, especially off the line of scrimmage.

    This five-time Pro Bowler used his shimmy to grab 309 passes and 52 touchdowns between 1983 and 1987, an exceptional feat given the fact that the Eagles played in a conference loaded with fantastic defenses in Chicago, New York, Washington and San Francisco. 

No. 2. Lynn Swann, WR

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    Career: 1974-82 

    Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers

    Speed, strength, size, toughness—all critical for football players ever since the game's inception. But the player most closely associated with bringing a visual aesthetic to the sport (although there's a case to be made for Bambi Lance Alworth) is Lynn Swann.

    The catches he made—coincidentally, in the critical moments during Super Bowls—displayed a type of grace and beauty never before seen and probably never since.

    Super Bowl X, in which Swann won the MVP, was the best example, whether it was his leaping, diving, juggling catch over Mark Washington, or the twisting grab along the sidelines early in the game.

    In the animal kingdom, the swan is renowned for their elegant style. Anyone who saw No. 88 on the field for Pittsburgh in the 1970s would agree that Lynn Swann was as well. 

No. 1. Mack Strong, FB

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    Career: 1993-2007

    Teams: Seattle Seahawks

    Joey Goodspeed's name is nice, but for a fullback, Mack Strong's is a hundred times better. Both first and last name have great value.

    Mack (his true first name, not a nickname) conjures up the image of the powerful truck that can plow through anything.

    And as for his surname, "Strong," that's an ideal description for a fullback.

    Two Pro Bowls and blocking for Chris Warren, Ricky Watters and Shaun Alexander (10 seasons of 1,200 or more yards rushing) prove that Strong certainly lived up to his name.