The Fearsome Foursome. Dick "Night Train" Lane. The Greatest Show on Turf. The Steel Curtain. Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch. The Purple People Eaters. William "The Refrigerator" Perry. America's Team. "Bullet" Bob Hayes. The Electric Company. "Broadway" Joe Namath. Monsters of the Midway. O.J. "The Juice" Simpson. The Orange Crush. Minister of Defense.
These are just a few of the many storied nicknames in NFL history, referring to individuals or groups of players. Names meant to instill fear, express character, or just make a statement to the world.
As Gillette's No Debate contest on Facebook deliberates the question, "Who has the best nickname in the NFL?", we here at Canal Street Chronicles will delve into the New Orleans Saints corner of the nickname world before voting on our own best Saints nickname of all time.
The first broadly-recognized nickname the Saints received is one most of us would rather forget, The Aints, which the team dubiously "earned" during the debacle of a 1-15 season in 1980. Fun fact: if you check out The Aints on wikipedia, you'll find out about Ed Kuepper's feedback-based sound from the 1990s.
But enough with the negativity...
Without a doubt the most fear-instilling and notable nickname the Saints have EVER received is that of the revered all-pro linebacking corps of the late 80s and early 90s, The Dome Patrol. These guys combined for 18 Pro Bowl appearances for the Saints (including a league-record all four making it in 1992), and Rickey's in the Hall of Fame.
I can picture them on the iconic poster that used to hang in my bedroom as a teenager: Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills, Pat Swilling, and Vaughan Johnson, so imposing in their combat fatigues with gold hand grenades and sunglasses, next to a jeep outside the lit-up Superdome at night. So badass.
And since I cannot pass up the opportunity to share this NFL Films video segment on the Dome Patrol, enjoy...
Early in Jim Haslett's tenure, the Saints defense developed a lesser-known, but equally fitting nickname, The Heavy Lunch Bunch, because of all the FFs on the D-line (Norman Hand, Grady Jackson, and Martin Chase). This name only instilled fear in cafeteria chairs at the Saints training facility, however. Another famous FF on those teams was Charles Chuckwagon Grant, who gained some weight that slowed him down at the end of his career.
From 1976 to 1979, as the Saints developed a powerful offense, Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath formed the duo dubbed Thunder and Lightning in the Saints offensive backfield. Galbreath was a top pass-catching running back who was #2 on the team in career rushing yards when he was traded away in 1981, while Muncie was the first Saint to rush for over 1000 yards in a season and was named MVP of the Pro Bowl following the 1979 season.
Now on to more individual player nicknames I can recall...
Local Louisiana legend and Saints signal caller Bobby Hebert went by The Cajun Cannon, which fits him even moreso now that he shoots his mouth off all the time on WWL radio.
At around that same time, a couple of other players on the Saints offense had nicknames that were much more electrifying than that Saints-era offense ever was: 1988 first-round pick running back Craig Ironhead Heyward, and wide receiver Lonzell MOE Hill. We were told that MOE stood for Master of Everything, but he failed to deliver on the promise shown in his second year with the Saints (1988), and he played his last game for the Saints in 1990.
Outspoken pro bowler and record-setting wide receiver Joe Hollywood Horn never met a spotlight he didn't want turned on him, and fan favorite/return specialist Michael Beer Man Lewis (also a record setter and pro bowler with a wonderful rags to riches story) were other luminaries during the Jim Haslett years in the early 2000s.
The current roster is not all that lively, but it features a deity (Breesus), Marques Quiet Storm Colston, and the CSC-named favorites Chris TUSK!! Ivory, and Pierre PT/Flying Frenchman Thomas.
With all that, it's time for you to vote in the poll and share your thoughts on these nicknames in the comment section. Which one(s) do you like best? Did I miss any that deserve mention here? Are there any players that deserve nicknames that can be unveiled here?