Pigskin Pet Names: the 5 Best Nicknames in NFL History

It’s not the shoe deal. It’s not the chain around his neck. It’s not the car he drives or the styles he wears. It’s not even about the number of times a week he makes it proverbially “rain on hoes.” When it comes to an athlete’s “cool factor,” it’s all in the nickname. The better the nickname, the better we’ll all remember him. And when it’s just right, when a player is given a moniker that sticks in the minds of every fan that hears it, the more his legend will grow long after his playing days are over. These are the top five nicknames in NFL history.

5 William Perry – “Refrigerator”

In most cases, being nicknamed after a household appliance wouldn’t be all that cool. No one is clamoring to be compared to a blender and there certainly aren’t many guys who would feel great about being called the “Dishwasher.” But for some reason, in the case of William Perry, “Refrigerator” just worked. The name is simply befitting for the guy. Whether it was because that’s where he spent most of his time, or because you’d have about as much luck stopping him as a refrigerator falling down a flight of stairs is inconsequential, because it worked. Just like a reliable, quality-made fridge.

4 Jevon Kearse – “The Freak”

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If you saw a man that was 6’4”tall and weighed 265 pounds barreling toward you baring his teeth, you’d be quick to believe he was some kind of freak of nature… or possibly a shaved bear. But since “The Shaved Bear” is a pretty strange thing to call a guy, Jevon Kearse was aptly nicknamed “The Freak.” Blessed with the size of a defensive lineman and the speed and agility of a defensive back, Kearse tortured quarterbacks league wide, notching 36 sacks in just his first three seasons in the league, proving why the “The Freak” was truly the only name that could sum him up. And luckily for the guy who came up with the nickname, Kearse proudly took it as a compliment.

3 Jerome Bettis – “The Bus”

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If you take one thing from his nickname, it’s that Jerome Bettis was a big boy. But it wasn’t just the size of the All-Pro running back that was reminiscent of a city bus, he had the speed, too. At 252 lbs. and just 5’11” tall, Bettis moved at a pace that no man of his build had any right to move, unless they were clocked while falling down a steep hillside. His speed and power was a legendary combination that likely caused many a defensive back to utter the words, “It must have been a bus, because I stepped out in front of it and now I’ve broken every bone in my body.”

2 Brian Dawkins – “Weapon X”

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This former Philadelphia Eagle may have been under-sized, but that was never going to prevent him from ripping your head off. He played with the speed, strength and desire of a man possessed, and there was literally nothing in the game he couldn’t do. Simply put, Brian Dawkins was a weaponized human, which is why they called him Weapon-X. It was the same codename given to the comic-book superhero Wolverine when he first had his skeleton fused with indestructible alloy and came out with two sets of deadly metal claws that could decapitate a man in the blink of an eye. So yeah, if people thought highly enough of Dawkins to give him this name, it’s probably best we give him his due, too.

1 Lane – “Night Train”

A fierce and feared cornerback of the mid-twentieth century, Lane still holds the NFL’s all-time record for interceptions in a single season. But the most important record he owns, is the one for best nickname in football history: “Night Train.” It sounds like a tag for a smooth jazz guitarist, or a legendary street brawler, or a skilled mercenary. All of which have one thing in common; they’re freakin’ cool. “Night Train” Lane may not have been any of those things, but his name gave him an undeniable air of awesomeness. At least until you find out he earned it because of a deathly fear of flying that had him taking the train to away games by himself. Still though, you know you wish that just once, someone called you “Night Train.”

There you have it, the greatest nicknames in NFL history. And don’t be upset that Deion Sanders didn’t make it for “Neon” or “Prime Time.” While they were both great names, we had a meeting and agreed that Deion’s recent stint as a tiny fairy in DirecTV commercials would earn him a one-list suspension from Top 5. And if you still don’t agree, just make a list of your own, but remember you’ll have to be the one to explain to one of these five guys why you left them off.

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