On Sundays this time of year, my wife and I are essentially football zombies. From early afternoon to late at night we are glued to the TV watching NFL games. Of course, we root for the Patriots, and check in on Tom Brady’s tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My wife has a crush on Patrick Mahomes (he’s so cute, she says), so we also follow the Kansas City Chiefs. And I’ve been a fan of the San Francisco 49ers ever since Jerry Rice, widely regarded as the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, teamed up with Joe Montana.

Plaxico Burress

Plaxico Burress sounds like a Swiss pharmaceutical company. The former NFL star is famous for his game-winning catch in Super Bowl XLII. AP photo

We’ve done this for years, so we’ve gotten to know a lot of the players. And their names. For some strange reason, many professional football players have these wonderful, memorable names – some evocative, some funny and some just strange. Here’s a few of our favorites …

My personal favorite is Peerless Price, for obvious reasons (check my byline). There’s so much to like here: we share a name and a position (I also played wide receiver in high school), and the dude is “peerless,” as in unrivaled. According to Wikipedia, his mother said he was given the name [partly] because she hoped that her son, growing up in a tough neighborhood, would avoid a life of crime.

If my wife had to pick a favorite, it would probably be BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the former standout running back for the Pats. To her, his name sounds like a one-man law firm. Forget the catchphrase “Better Call Saul” for defending small-time crooks, divorce-minded individuals might like “Get the Prius, Call Green-Ellis.” He could join forces with legal eagles Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy.

One of the best young quarterbacks playing today is Jalen Hurts. I bet he does, after every game. His team, the Philadelphia Eagles, is the league’s top-ranked team.

And then we’ve got Fair Hooker and Ben Gay, both of whom played for the Cleveland Browns. Mr. Gay, whose full name recalls a popular pain relief cream he may have used a time or two on the field, can at least say his full first name is Benjamin. But what about Fair? And a hooker to boot.


Another Cleveland Browns player, who also won a Super Bowl as a Patriot, is Barkevious Mingo. Haven’t heard Mingo since Daniel Boone’s Cherokee sidekick on the ’60s TV show. There’s a family explanation for his unusual first name. According to the sports press, his mom started with the first part of her name (Barbara) and added the tail end of a cousin’s name (Alkevious). According to Barkevious, as a kid with a weird moniker his mom worked with him every day to make sure he spelled his name right.

Another player’s mother left out one of the elemental forces when she named her son, a future Patriot’s cornerback, Earthwind Moreland. Fortunately, a really good American band picked up the full name (Earth, Wind & Fire) and sold 90 million records worldwide.

Plaxico Burress sounds like a Swiss pharmaceutical company. Happy Feller, well, he was a guy, and presumably happy with his name. (Full disclosure, his real first name was James Patrick.) Jake Butt was a tight end. And when place kicker Ryan Succop (pronounced “suck up”) retires he might consider a political career as vice president.

Chad Ochocinco’s real last name was Johnson, but the Cincinnati Bengal’s wide receiver renamed himself in honor of his jersey number: 85. Good thing his number wasn’t 11 or his name would have been Chad Once. But what is it now?

I could go on, but I’ll end with my newest favorite football name, even though I have a hard time pronouncing it: Equanimeous St. Brown, who plays for the Chicago Bears. One internet wag suggested his name sounds more like a Greek philosopher than a football player. I can imagine him asking deep philosophical questions, like “Why is there air?” (Answer: To inflate footballs of course!)

We love football, the players and their quirky names. You don’t have to be a football player to have an unusual name. Consider Boutros Boutros-Ghali. But if he hadn’t been an Egyptian diplomat and Secretary-General of the United Nations, he would have made a great linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.

Steven Price is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at [email protected]

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