NFL: The 10 Best Team Nicknames in History

Justine BrownCorrespondent IINovember 17, 2011

24 Dec 2000:  Quarterback Kurt Warner #13 of the St. Louis Rams throws a pass during Sunday's final regular season game against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Digital Image.  The Rams defeated the Saints with a final score of 26-21. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Over the years, a number of great nicknames have been created to describe NFL teams and/or their different offensive and defensive units.  Some of these nicknames refer to a group of players from a certain time period, while others have stuck with organizations and have been used to describe those teams continually over the years.

Here's a look at the best nicknames in NFL history.

"America's Team" was a nickname given to the Dallas Cowboys in 1978, and it is still one of the most commonly used NFL team nicknames today.  The name came to be because of the Cowboys' large following, not just in Dallas. 

The Cowboys seemed to have an extensive and widespread fanbase even when they were on the road.  The nickname was first used in the team's 1978 highlight film and later used in a broadcast, leading to its popularity.

"The Greatest Show on Turf" was a name given to the high-powered offense of the St. Louis Rams in 1999, 2000 and 2001.  The offense, coordinated by Mark Martz, efficiently used the passing game (led by quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt) and the running game (led by Marshall Faulk and Az-Zahir Akim) to accumulate a ton of points and yardage. 

The team won the Super Bowl in January of 2000.

"Da Bears" is a nickname given to the Chicago Bears, derived from one of the most famous recurring sketches on Saturday Night Live, "Bill Swerski's Superfans." 

The characters, which typically included Joe Mantegna, Chris Farley, Mike Meyers and Robert Smigel, spent most of their time sitting in Mike Ditka's sports bar drinking beer, eating Chicago food staples and talking about "Da Bears" and "Da Bulls."

"The Purple People Eaters" was a nickname used to refer to the 1970 Minnesota Vikings defensive line, which consisted of Pro Bowlers Alan Page, Jim Marshall, Carl Eller and Gary Larsen. 

One of the most dominant and identifiable offensive lines in NFL football history, the Purple People Eaters successfully protected quarterback Fran Tarkenton and helped lead the Vikings to three Super Bowls in four years.

"The Steel Curtain" refers to the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense of the 1970s, which to this day is considered to be one of the single most dominant defensive units in NFL history.  In 1976, the Steelers' defense recorded five shutouts during a nine-game stretch in which they allowed just two touchdowns. 

Eight of the eleven members of that Steelers defense were voted into the Pro Bowl that year.

"Dirty Birds" was a nickname given to the 1998 Atlanta Falcons, and it originates from a touchdown dance by former Falcons running back Jamal Anderson.  The Dirty Bird is still being done today in end zones after touchdowns and is still being used to describe the Falcons.

"The Big Blue Wrecking Crew" refers to the New York Giants' defense of the 1980s, which helped lead the team to two Super Bowl wins.  With a defense led by Lawrence Taylor, one of the single greatest NFL players of all time, the Big Blue Wrecking Crew is still widely considered one of the greatest defenses ever.

11 Nov 1990:  Linebacker Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants (center) works against the Los Angeles Rams during a game at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California.  The Giants won the game, 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

"The Cardiac Cats" was a nickname given to the 2003 Carolina Panthers, who won a number of their games by close last-second or overtime decisions, giving their fans heart attacks. 

Leading up to their 2003 Super Bowl appearance, the Panthers played in five overtime games and tied an NFL team record for most games won by three points or less, with seven.

"The Crunch Bunch" was a nickname given specifically to the New York Giants' linebacker corp from 1981 to 1983.  The corp, consisting of Brad Van Pelt, Harry Carson, Lawrence Taylor and Brian Kelly, was known for its insanely hard hits and giant sacks on opposing teams' quarterbacks. 

Together, the Crunch Bunch accumulated 24 Pro Bowl appearances.

"The Aints" was a name given to the 1980 New Orleans Saints, who lost 14 consecutive games. The Saints' lack of playoff success up until 2000 allowed this name to stick around, but the Aints has since been turned into a positive reference by New Orleans fans, implying that ain't nobody getting by the Saints.