Nicknames have become something of a lost art in sports. Creativity has seemingly gone completely out the window in almost every sport, and it seems like half the nicknames attached to this era’s biggest football stars are self-ascribed (Freddie “FredEx” Mitchell), painfully bad alliterations (Tom “Terrific” Brady) or simply lazy variants of the player’s initials (LaDanian “LT” Tomlinson). Or, perhaps, worst of all, some all-time great players like Peyton Manning don’t even bother with the exercise at all.
We’ve reached a breaking point for nicknames. Don’t kid yourself; this is a crisis.
It wasn’t always this way, however. The 1980s and ’90s, especially, were a golden era in the world of aptly named football players. Men called “Sweetness,” “Assassin,” and “Refrigerator” roamed the gridiron, establishing a mystique built on equal parts performance and memorable monikers. Their nicknames didn’t just describe the way they played; they captured the aura of these players, the spirit with which they played the game and established themselves at the top of the NFL’s food chain.
Every year, over 1,600 NFL players take the field, each one trying to make a name for himself. Of those athletes, only a small handful will stand out enough for the casual fan to even learn their names. But, to be remembered by more than just the name given by one’s parents is perhaps an even greater honor, and one very few football players have ever attained. From “Concrete Charlie” to “Megatron,” these are the Greatest Nicknames in NFL History.