List of NFL nicknames
The following are nicknames throughout the history of the NFL.
Nicknames for entire teams, or whole offensive or defensive units.
- Ain'ts: Nickname given to the New Orleans Saints after their 1980 season of 14 consecutive losses. The name persisted somewhat as, although they would later qualify for the playoffs several times since then, they did not win a playoff game until their defeat of the defending Super Bowl champion Rams in the Wild Card round of the 2000–01 playoffs. The franchise subsequently won four additional playoff games, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2007 Divisional Round, the Arizona Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 Divisional Round and NFC Championship, and the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. The recent run of success has changed the meaning of the "Ain'ts" (or "Aints") term from a negative to a positive, connotating the image of an unbreakable barrier to opponents of the Saints (i.e. "You Ain't Beating New Orleans"). The negative use of the term returned following New Orleans' 2010 playoff loss to the 7–9 Seahawks.
- Air Coryell: Nickname given to the high powered passing offenses of the mid-1970s St. Louis Cardinals, led by quarterback Jim Hart and coached by Don Coryell, though more often used to refer to the late-1970s/early-1980s San Diego Chargers offense
- America's Team: Nickname given to the Dallas Cowboys for having a large number of fans outside its immediate local area. (The term itself is likely derived from the title of the team's 1978 highlight film).
- Bay of Pigs: Nickname given to matchups of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers by ESPN anchor Chris Berman from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, when both teams hovered at the bottom of the NFC Central division. (The term is derived from the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.)
- Big Blue Wrecking Crew: Name of the New York Giants defensive team during the 1980s and into the early 1990s. This defense is considered one of the greatest of all time, and is perhaps the greatest 3–4 defense in NFL history.
- Bills West The 2001 San Diego Chargers, so named because of the signing of the Buffalo Bills' former general manager, John Butler, along with several Buffalo Bills players, including quarterback Doug Flutie.
- Blitz, Inc.: Name of the Philadelphia Eagles defensive team in the 1999–2004 seasons.
- Blitzburgh: Name of the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive unit since the mid-1990s and their tendency to relentlessly attack opposing quarterbacks.
- Bull Elephant backfield: running backs of the 1950s Rams: Dick Hoerner, Paul "Tank" Younger, and "Deacon" Dan Towler.
- Bulls on Parade: Refers to the Houston Texans defense, starting in the 2011 season. After the hiring of Wade Phillips, the defense went from almost last ranked in the NFL to ranked second at the end of the 2011 season, winning the AFC South for the first time and reaching the post-season for the first time in franchise history. The name is taken from the Rage Against The Machine song of the same name.
- Bungles: Name referring to the Cincinnati Bengals teams of the 1990s and 2000s, whose string of losing seasons with records 8–8 or worse spanned 14 consecutive years. Name also used for any failing Cincinnati Bengals team thereafter.
- Cardiac Cardinals (Cards): the St. Louis Cardinals NFC East championship teams of 1974 (10–4) and '75 (11–3). Noted for their come-from-behind wins under their head coach, Don Coryell. The name was resurrected for the 1998 team that upset Dallas in the wild card game.
- Cardiac Cats: The Carolina Panthers of the late 1990s and early 2000s, derived from the St. Louis Cardinals' 1970s "Cardiac Cards" nickname. Known for close games often decided in the final minutes or the final play, thus giving their fans heart attacks; the term was used particularly during the team's Super Bowl season when they led the league in comeback wins. The Jacksonville Jaguars also earned this nickname in the late '90s after pulling off last minute wins, especially during the 1996 season. Most recently dubbed for the 2009–2010 Cincinnati Bengals for their astounding eight regular season games that were decided in the final minute of play. Carson Palmer led seven game tying/winning drives in the final 5:00 of those games (one in overtime against the Cleveland Browns), losing only two of those eventually to the Denver Broncos on the "Immaculate Deflection" and the San Diego Chargers.
- Cardiac Jags: the Jacksonville Jaguars earned this nickname because of making several comeback wins and/or winning nail-biters.
- Cowgirls: Dallas Cowboys, by detractors, referring to the team's cheerleaders
- Cowpies: Dallas Cowboys, by detractors, refers to cow excrement
- Crunch Bunch: The 1981–83 New York Giants linebacking corps noted for their hard-hitting play and for generating many quarterback sacks, Taylor in particular. Mario Sestito of Troy, New York is credited with coining the name after a NY Giants newsletter at the time called 'Inside Football' held a contest to name this defensive unit, consisting of Harry Carson, Brian Kelley, Lawrence Taylor and Brad Van Pelt.
- Da Bears: Slang nickname given to the Chicago Bears made popular by the Bill Swerski's Superfans sketches of the early 1990s on Saturday Night Live. Sometimes used to retroactively refer to the 1985 Bears.
- The Deadskins: Given to the Washington Redskins squads under Daniel Snyder ownership for the team's poor performances, particularly during the 2000s.
- Dirty Birds The 1998 Atlanta Falcons (but is still a nickname for the Falcons). The name originates from an endzone dance started by Jamal Anderson that was adopted by all the players upon scoring.
- Dome Patrol: The 1980s Saints linebacking corps, rated as #1 by NFL Network. This all star group included Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills, Pat Swilling, and Vaughan Johnson. The linebacker corps made NFL history as having all four elected to the same Pro Bowl.
- Dolts: Derisive name given whenever the Indianapolis Colts or San Diego Chargers (whose nickname is the "Bolts") had a bad team.
- Donkeys: Derisive name for the Denver Broncos.
- Doomsday Defense: The 1970s Dallas Cowboys defensive team. Doomsday I, the unit that led the Cowboys to victory in Super Bowl VI, was anchored by future Pro Football Hall of Fame members Herb Adderley, Bob Lilly, and Mel Renfro, while Doomsday II, which spearheaded the drive to the title in Super Bowl XII, featured Hall of Famer Randy White and fellow defensive linemen Harvey Martin and Ed "Too Tall" Jones.
- Earth, Wind, and Fire: 2008 New York Giants running back trio of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw
- Electric Company: The 1970s Buffalo Bills offensive line. They were given that name because they "turned on the 'Juice'" by paving the way for star halfback O.J. Simpson, who was nicknamed "Juice", because a common nickname for orange juice is also O.J.
- Evil Empire: Name associating the New England Patriots dynasty of the 2000s. Coach Bill Bellichick was deemed "evil" after the Spygate scandal and the term is a play on Belichick's frequent use of hooded sweatshirts on the sideline, making him resemble the Emperor Palpatine character from the Star Wars motion picture series.
- Fearsome Foursome: The 1960s Los Angeles Rams defensive line.
- Fort Knox: name given to the pass pocket created by the 1981 Buffalo Bills offensive line that allowed quarterback Joe Ferguson to throw deep (it allowed him to set a career record in passing yardage that season); the name was a play on the name of Bills head coach Chuck Knox.
- Forty Whiners: Referencing the fans of the 49ers who often complain, as well as coach Jim Harbaugh who has a reputation of whining on the sidelines during games or during post game press conferences.
- G Men: Nickname of the New York Giants.
- Gang Green: Nickname of the New York Jets, or the Philadelphia Eagles defensive team from 1987 to 1990, when the team was coached by Buddy Ryan.
- Greatest Show on Turf: The 1999–2001 St. Louis Rams offensive team. (Note: The first team referred to as "The Greatest Show on Turf" was the 1992 Houston Oilers, the title of their 1993 NFL Films highlight film. The Oilers employed the wide-open run-and-shoot offense.)
- Gritz Blitz: Nickname for the 1977 Atlanta Falcons defense that allowed the fewest points per game (9.2) in NFL history. The Gritz Blitz defense consisted of defensive tackles Jim Bailey and Mike Lewis, defensive ends Claude Humphrey and Jeff Merrow, cornerbacks Rick Byas, Mike Esposito, and Rolland Lawrence, safeties Ray Brown and Ray Easterling, and linebackers Greg Brezina, Fulton Kuykendall, Ralph Ortega, and Robert Pennywell.
- Ground Chuck: Nickname for the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks teams coached by Chuck Knox (playing off his first name and his team's conservative, ball-control offense).
- Homeland Defense: Nickname for the New England Patriots defense during their runs to Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX.
- Hogs: The Washington Redskins' offensive line, considered one of the largest and strongest in football history, originally consisting of Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Mark May, George Starke, and Jeff Bostic.
- Jet Blue: New York Giants wide receivers corp in the early 2010s comprising Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham.
- Jokeland: Derisive name applied to the Oakland Raiders whenever they had a poor performance.
- Kardiac Kids: The 1980 Cleveland Browns, who had a penchant for having games decided in the final moments.
- Kelly Gun/K-Gun: Buffalo Bills' no-huddle offense when Jim Kelly was their quarterback. Named after Kelly and TE Keith McKeller. It was a success (four consecutive Super Bowl appearances) due to teams not being able to sub in their players in a timely fashion due to the quickness of the offense. They had their own version of the Run & Shoot Offense with Thurman Thomas in the backfield as their Tailback along with Don Beebe and Andre Reed as their receivers.
- The Killer Bees: The 1982 Miami Dolphins defensive team; six of their 11 starters had last names that began with the letter "B" (Bob Baumhower, Bill Barnett, Lyle Blackwood, Kim Bokamper, Glenn Blackwood, Charles Bowser, Doug Betters, and Bob Brudzinski). They allowed only 131 points in the strike-shortened, nine-game regular season.
- Legion of Boom: The dominant secondary of the Seattle Seahawks, consisting of 2013 All-Pro safety tandem Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor as well as the league's largest set of corners in 6'1" Byron Maxwell and 6'3" All-Pro Richard Sherman. The nickname refers to the physical play of a unit typified by "booming" hits.
- Marty Ball: Coach Marty Schottenheimer's football strategy.
- Million Dollar Backfield was given to two historical backfields. It was first used to refer to the backfield of the then–Chicago Cardinals in 1947 after owner Charles Bidwill spent an unprecedented amount of money to lure several of the era's top players to the team. The term was resurrected again in 1954 for the backfield of the San Francisco 49ers, which would go on to produce four Hall of Famers.
- Monsters of the Midway: Originally applied to the Chicago Bears of the early 1940s, but revived for the 1980s Bears and subsequent successful Bears defensive teams. Originally used for the University of Chicago Maroons college football team. "Midway" was the name of the park on campus.
- New York Sack Exchange: The New York Jets defense of the early 1980s, led by defensive end Mark Gastineau along with Joe Klecko, and interior linemen Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam. Fans began showing up at Shea Stadium with "NY Sack Exchange" signs, then the team itself began to promote that moniker. Name references the New York Stock Exchange on New York's Wall Street.
- No-Name Defense: The 1970s Miami Dolphins defensive team, especially that of its undefeated 1972 season, which performed excellently despite a lack of recognizable stars. They earned their nickname the previous year when Dallas coach Tom Landry said in an interview prior to Super Bowl VI that he could not remember the names of the Miami defensive players.
- Oakland Faiders: Refers to the fact that the Raiders have faded from their glory days. It also referred to the 1995 season (their first season in their return to Oakland from Los Angeles) in which they got off to an 8–2 start, but did not win a single game for the rest of the season, finishing 8–8 and missing the playoffs.
- Orange Crush: The 1970s Denver Broncos defensive team, led by defensive end Lyle Alzado and linebacker Randy Gradishar.
- Over-the-Hill Gang: The George Allen–coached Washington Redskins of the early 1970s, so named because of the large number of veteran players on the team. Many of those players also played for Allen when he coached the Los Angeles Rams from 1966–1970.
- Patsies: Poorly performing New England Patriots squads, a play on the nickname "The Pats".
- Pewter Pirates: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after changing team logo and colors in 1997.
- Purple People Eaters: The 1970s Minnesota Vikings defensive line, specifically the combination of Alan Page, Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, and Gary Larsen. The name is a reference to both the purple uniforms of the Vikings and the 1960s song "One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater"
- Sack Pack: The defensive line of the Baltimore Colts in the mid- to late-70s. The Sack Pack were defensive tackles Joe Ehrmann (#76) and Mike Barnes (#64) and defensive ends Fred Cook (#72) and John Dutton (#78). In 1975, the Sack Pack established itself with 59 sacks. It had 56 the following year and 47 in 1977 before slowing down due to injuries.
- San Diego Super Chargers: Nickname given to the San Diego Chargers from its fight song. The song is often cited by Chris Berman and Tom Jackson.
- Steel Curtain: The 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers defensive team considered to be one of the most dominant defenses in the history of the NFL, primarily because in 1978 the league had to make rule changes for offenses to be able to combat the Steel Curtain. These rules included allowing offensive linemen to use their hands to block pass rushers like "Mean" Joe Greene, and restricting defensive backs like Mel Blount from being able to bump receivers more than five yards past the line of scrimmage (as DBs had been allowed to do before). In 1976 during a nine game stretch, the Steel Curtain allowed only 28 points, including five shut-outs. The Steel Curtain of the '70s produced four Hall of Fame players (more than any of the vaunted defensive units of the time): Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Joe Greene, and Mel Blount. LC Greenwood and Donnie Shell have both been Hall of Fame finalists several times.
- Seagulls, Sea Slugs or Sea Chickens: Name that is often uttered by various articles when referring to the Seahawks in a derogatory way. Also, fans sometimes might call the team this nickname when they do poorly during games.
- Seasquawks or Squawks: used by Seahawk fans endearingly. It denotes the feeling of pride Seahawks fans have for the team despite their history of mediocrity. It is a play on the name; replacing the hawk in Seahawk with squawk: a grating noise made by a bird, or a harsh abrubt scream
- SWAT team: Name of the Cincinnati Bengals' secondary of David Fulcher, Solomon Wilcots, Eric Thomas, and Lewis Billups coached by Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau during the 1988 season.
- Three Amigos: Denver Broncos wide receivers Mark Jackson, Vance Johnson, and Ricky Nattiel
- The Triplets: Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, the offensive stars of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys three-time Super Bowl winning teams
- Viqueens: Poorly performing Minnesota Vikings squads, a play on the team name.
- Yucks (or "Yuccaneers"): The Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s when the team commonly posted double-digit losses during the regular season. On November 17, 1996, the "Yuccaneers" term was used during the ESPN pregame show prior to a game at the Chargers. Tampa Bay erased a 0–14 deficit to win 25–17.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (August 2012)|
Nicknames for individual players, or small groups of individual players.
|A-Train||Mike Alstott||How he was as difficult to tackle as a freight train; "A" is a reference to his surname initial|
|Ageless Wonder||Darrell Green||His remarkable ability to maintain a high level of play during the latter years of his 20 year career.|
|'AD/All Day or AD||Adrian Peterson||Given to him by his parents because he would run "all day"|
|Amish Rifle||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Given to him by Buffalo Bills fans because of his scraggly beard during the 2010 NFL season.|
|Anytime||Devin Hester||His ability to return kicks and punts for touchdowns any time. Inspired from his mentor Deion "Prime Time" Sanders.|
|The Assassin||Jack Tatum||Given for his pure brutality.|
|Bad Moon||Andre Rison||Given nickname by ESPN's Chris Berman in reference to CCR's song "Bad Moon Rising".|
|Bambi||Lance Alworth||For his speed, and his spectacular and graceful moves.|
|Beast Mode||Marshawn Lynch||He used this term to describe himself during an interview. Afterward fans continued to use the term.|
|Big Ben||Ben Roethlisberger||His imposing size, a nod to the large clock on the Elizabeth Tower in London|
|Big Game||Torry Holt||Goes back to his college career at North Carolina State when he had great performances in games such as against No. 2 ranked Florida State Seminoles scoring two +60 yards touchdowns and thus helped stunning the Seminoles 24-7 for the program's biggest upset in 31 years. He also set Rookie Super Bowl Records for Receptions an Receiving yards in his first Super Bowl in the 1999 season, he also added a touchdown.|
|Big Daddy||Dan Wilkinson||His 6'5", 340 lb frame|
|Big Snack||Casey Hampton||Apparent reference to his large size and penchant for eating|
|Blonde Bomber||Terry Bradshaw||His blond hair combined with his tendencies to throw the ball down the field, hence "bomber"|
|Broadway Joe||Joe Namath||Reference to the wide avenue that ran through New York—the city where he played QB with the New York Jets|
|Breesus||Drew Brees||Play on Brees's last name and his perception as the savior of Saints Football.|
|Brian Crushing||Brian Cushing||Play on Cushing's last name and his hard-hitting tackles.|
|Bullet Bob||Bob Hayes||Reference to his incredible speed. Won gold medal and set world record in the 100 m at 1964 Summer Olympics.|
|Burner||Michael Turner||Given both because of his ability to break long runs and because it rhymes with his last name. Got the name in college.|
|Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid||Larry Csonka & Jim Kiick||Miami Dolphins running back duo from 1968–1974; named after the movie about the famous outlaws.|
|Bus||Jerome Bettis||Because of his ability to carry tacklers on his back like a "bus"|
|Captain Checkdown||Trent Edwards||Name given to quarterback Trent Edwards for his refusal to throw the deep ball, preferring instead to dump off to running backs or tight ends.|
|Captain Comeback||Jim Harbaugh||Name given to quarterback Jim Harbaugh during his tenure with the Colts in the 1990s after bringing the team back from behind numerous times in 1995 en route to the AFC championship game.|
|C.C.||Cris Carter||C.C. for Cris Carter, Was #2(130) in touchdown receptions when he retired. Best known for his one-handed, sideline circus catches. Was part of the 3-Deep threats along with Vikings teammate Randy Moss, and Jake Reed.|
|CJ2K, CJ2', CJ1K||Chris Johnson||CJ for Chris Johnson, 2K for his 2000-yard rushing season, 2 as a play on CJ2K and a reference to his poor performance towards the beginning of the 2011 season|
|Comeback Kid||multiple||Nickname given to any player, particularly quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Roger Staubach, John Elway, Eli Manning and Joe Montana for leading teams in comebacks.|
|Concrete Charlie||Chuck Bednarik||Because of missing only 3 games in his 13 season of playing, as well as his offseason employment as a concrete salesman.|
|Crazy Legs||Elroy Hirsch|
|Crystal Chandelier||Chris Chandler||Was plagued by concussions and injuries, referencing his presumed fragility|
|Crunch Bunch||Harry Carson, Brian Kelley, Lawrence Taylor and Brad Van Pelt||The 1981–83 New York Giants linebacking corps noted for their hard-hitting play and for generating many quarterback sacks, Taylor in particular. Mario Sestito of Troy, New York is credited with coining the name after a NY Giants newsletter at the time called 'Inside Football' held a contest to name this defensive unit.|
|Curtis "My Favorite" Martin||Curtis Martin||Pun on the television show My Favorite Martian; bestowed by ESPN's Chris Berman|
|Deebo||James Harrison||His similarity in appearance and demeanor to the character in the movie Friday played by Tom Lister, Jr.|
|Diesel||John Riggins||Because of his powerback style of play—compared to a truck that ran on diesel.|
|Dr Death||Skip Thomas||Because of his physical tackling, and apparent resemblance to the cartoon character|
|Don't Cross The||Arthur Moats||Name bestowed after Moats laid a clean, but particularly devastating hit on Brett Favre, ending Favre's streak of consecutive starts as well as leading to Favre's retirement at the end of the 2010 season. Moats are large trenches surrounding castles that served as a line of defense.|
|Double Trouble||DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart||Carolina Panthers running back duo from 2008–present, previously known as Smash and Dash|
|D.T. or D.D.T.||Derrick Thomas||His initials. Also went by D.D.T. (bestowed by fans) which stood for "Dangerous Derrick Thomas" and after the toxic synthetic pesticide|
|Dump Truck||Najeh Davenport||Allusion to an incident which allegedly occurred when he was in college as well as a take on one-time teammate Jerome Bettis' nickname, "The Bus"|
|Dwight Hicks and the Hot Licks||Dwight Hicks1984 San Francisco 49ers defensive secondary led by|
|Dynamic Uno||David Wilson||His all-around skills at Running Back|
|Edge||Edgerrin James||Shortening of his first name|
|Earth, Wind and Fire||Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward& Ahmad Bradshaw||2008 NY Giants running backs; Jacobs = Earth, Ward = Wind, Bradshaw = Fire|
|ELIte||Eli Manning||Play on the name his first name, Eli, and the word Elite. Used by New York Giants fans in reference to quarterback Eli Manning claiming that he considers himself in the same elite class of quarterbacks as Tom Brady during a preseason interview. Manning backed up this claim by beating Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI|
|The Face Cleaver||Leonard Weaver|
|Fast Willie||Willie Parker||His speed|
|Fatso||Art Donovan||A reference to his large frame.|
|Fitzmagic||Ryan Fitzpatrick||His ability to turn around a long-struggling Buffalo Bills offensive attack after several years of mediocrity. It was later turned around to Fitztragic when his play, as well as the team's, declined.|
|Flash 80||Jerry Rice||His stunning plays combined with his number, 80|
|The Flyin' Hawaiian||Troy Polamalu||His style of diving into receivers and diving into pass paths for interception, and for Polamalu's Polynesian ancestry (Polamalu is in fact Samoan, but Hawaiian rhymes better)|
|Fragile Fred||Fred Taylor||Perception of being injured constantly|
|Freak||Randy Moss||His freakish athletic abilities|
|Freak||Jevon Kearse||Combine stats off the charts for someone his size|
|FredEx||Freddie Mitchell||Because he "always delivered"|
|The Freezer||B.J. Raji||A play off the nickname of William "The Refrigerator" Perry whom the Bears utilized in a similar manner during the 1980s. "Freezer" also alludes to the Packers home stadium, Lambeau Field, which is known for its freezing temperatures in December and February.|
|Fun Bunch||Washington Redskins wide receivers and tight endsEarly 1980s||This group's choreographed touchdown celebrations led to a league-wide ban of "excessive celebration" in 1984.|
|Galloping Ghost||Harold "Red" Grange||Because no one could catch him|
|Genocide||Gene Smith||Because he shreds defenses.|
|Ghost (or "Space Ghost")||Dave Casper||After Casper the Friendly Ghost|
|Golden Boy||Paul Hornung||A reference to his blond hair and his alma mater, Notre Dame, with its gold helmets and the golden dome of the main building on the Notre Dame campus. Notre Dame students and alumni are also referred to as "Golden Domers".|
|The Gravedigger||Gilbert Brown||Earned nickname in honor of his celebratory dance following a thunderous tackle.|
|Golden Graham||Jimmy Graham||This is a play on his last name to refer to his all-star talent. Golden comes from the fact that the New Orleans Saints' secondary color is gold. He is also nicknamed this after his breakout 2011–2012 NFL Season at the tight end position with the New Orleans Saints.|
|Greg The Leg||Greg Zuerlein||Reference to his ability to kick long Field Goals and also because "Leg" rhymes with his first name.|
|(The) Gronk||Rob Gronkowski||Shortening of his last name which is Gronkowski.|
|The Gunslinger||Brett Favre||He earned this nickname for his intrepid attitude on the field, his legendary toughness and ability to come back from and play through injuries, and the fact that he threw bullet passes so hard he was known to break his receiver's fingers. The "gunslinger mentality" refers to Favre's tendency to fearlessly force throws to covered receivers, a high risk/high reward style of play.|
|Hacksaw||Jack Reynolds||Earned his nickname in 1969 by cutting an abandoned 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air in half with a hacksaw after his previously unbeaten University of Tennessee team returned from an embarrassing 38–0 road loss to Ole Miss.|
|The Hammer||Jessie Tuggle||Earned his nickname because of impact of hits he put on opposing ball carriers and QBs. Played his entire career with the Atlanta Falcons and was part of the 1998 "Dirty Birds" team.|
|He Hate Me||Rod Smart||Self-bestowed nickname Smart used on the back of his jersey during his time in the XFL. The nickname, which became a symbol of the XFL, stuck with Smart after he joined the NFL.|
|Hefty Lefty', 'Pillsbury Throwboy', 'J-Load', 'The Round Mound of Touchdown', 'He Ate Me'||Jared Lorenzen||His size and left-handed throwing motion|
|Hit and Run||Thomas Jones and Leon Washington||New York Jets running back duo from 2008–2009|
|The Hotel||Flozell Adams||His 6'7", 340-pound frame|
|The House||Herman Johnson||His 6'7", 386-pound frame|
|Housh||T.J. Houshmandzadeh||Play on the first syllable of his name.|
|Hogs||Washington Redskins offensive line1980s and early 1990s||Name first used by offensive line coach Joe Bugel during the team's 1982 training camp prior to winning Super Bowl XVII.|
|The Human Joystick/ X-Factor||Dante Hall||Nickname given to him by coach Vermeil because of his big play ability in the return game|
|Inconvenient Truth||Frank Gore||Given by Rich Eisen: The Inconvenient truth was the name of former Vice President Al Gore's book/film|
|Iron Head||Craig Heyward||His hard-nosed straight-ahead, bruising running style.|
|Iron Mike||Mike Ditka|
|J.J. Swatt"'||J.J. Watt||Used by multiple media outlets for his ability to tip passes at the line of scrimmage. Began towards the start of the 2012 NFL season.|
|Jake "daylight come and you gotta" Delhomme||Jake Delhomme||Used by Chris Berman, a play on Delhomme's name and the Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte.|
|Joe Cool||Joe Montana||His ability to remain calm in pressure situations|
|Juice||O. J. Simpson||His initials (which also are used to refer to orange juice)|
|JPP||Jason Pierre-Paul||His initials|
|Kam "Bam Bam" Chancellor||Kam Chancellor||Given for his big, hard hits|
|K.G.B.||Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila||His initials|
|Kansas Comet||Gale Sayers||"Kansas Comet" was stuck on him by the Director of Sports Information at the University of Kansas.|
|The Kitchen||Nate Newton||Since he was presumably larger than "The Fridge"|
|L.J.||Larry Johnson||His initials|
|L.T.||Lawrence Taylor||His initials|
|LT||LaDainian Tomlinson||His initials|
|Law Firm||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Play on the length of his full name and its resemblance to the name of a law firm|
|Lights Out||Shawne Merriman||Because of his reputation of being a hard hitter; has been shortened to "Lights" by teammates in interviews|
|Long Gone||L.G. Dupre||An alternate take on his initials, and a reference to his ability to run away from competitors|
|Machine Gun Kelly||Jim Kelly||Jim Kelly was perhaps best known for running the Bills' "No-Huddle Offense", which was fast-paced and denied opposing defenses the opportunity to make timely substitutions, establishing the Buffalo Bills as one of the NFL's most successful and dangerous offenses. A reference to mobster George "Machine Gun" Kelly.|
|Mad Duck||Alex Karras||Because of his short legs, he appeared to waddle like a duck.|
|Mad Stork||Ted Hendricks|
|Manster||Randy White||Half Man, Half Monster.|
|Marion the Barbarian||Marion Barber III||Because of his physical running style and reputation for repeatedly breaking tackles|
|Marks Brothers||Mark Clayton and Mark Duper||Prolific Miami Dolphins wide receiver duo of the 1980s who shared the same first name (also a reference to the Marx Brothers. They were also christened "Mark Twain.")|
|Matty Ice||Matt Ryan||In reference to Natural Ice or "Natty Ice", an adult beverage loved by bros across America.|
|Meast||Sean Taylor||Half Man, half beast|
|Megatron||Calvin Johnson||A reference to his large frame, comparing him to a Transformers character|
|Mercury||Eugene Morris|
|The Milkman||JJ Watt|
|The Minister Of Defense||Reginald Howard "Reggie" White||A reference to his Christian ministry as an ordained Evangelical minister and his preferred position as a defensive end on the teams for which he played|
|Minitron||Julian Edelman||While not many would draw comparisons between the diminutive Julian Edelman and the monstrous Calvin Johnson, Tom Brady did just that by giving Julian a new nickname: "Minitron"|
|Missile||Qadry Ismail||His speed (particularly as a kick returner), and also a play on his brother Raghib Ismail's nickname, Rocket|
|Mongo||Steve McMichael||Taken from the character in the film Blazing Saddles, played by Alex Karras.|
|Moose||Daryl Johnston||Given to him by Cowboys backup quarterback Babe Laufenberg for his blocking ability and opening holes for runningback Emmitt Smith.|
|citation needed]The Mossiah[||Randy Moss||The Savior for the Vikings. In his rookie year, Moss led the Vikings towards one of the most powerful offenses in the NFL.|
|MoJo/MJD||Maurice Jones-Drew||RB for the Jaguars. Nickname was first used when he added his late grandfather's last name (Jones) to his original last name (Drew) out of respect. "Mo"—Maurice, "Jo"—Jones.|
|Mr. Rodgers||Aaron Rodgers||QB for the Packers 2008–present. His last name is a homonym of that of long-time children's television host Mister Rogers.|
|Mr. Wrangler Jeans||Brett Favre||QB for the Packers from 1991-2007. Favre is a spokesperson for Wrangler jeans.|
|The Natural||Andre Johnson||WR for the Houston Texans. Nicknamed due to his incredible natural talent and his team colors and due to his last name being Johnson just
like Calvin "Megatron" Johnson.
|Neon Deion||Deion Sanders||His flashy play and the rhyme with his first name|
|Nigerian Nightmare||Christian Okoye||To his homeland as well as to the difficulty he posed to defenses|
|Night Train||Dick Lane||Due to his fear of flying, Lane road a night train to away games while the rest of the team flew|
|Ocho Cinco||Chad Johnson||Self-bestowed pidgin Spanish reference to his uniform number (85); originally named Chad Johnson, legally changed name to "Chad Ochocinco" in 2008 (changed back to Johnson in 2012). Also self-refers as "Esteban Ochocinco".|
|Papa Bear||George Halas||The founding father of the Chicago Bears|
|Playmaker||Michael Irvin||For his ability to defeat tight coverage, even double coverage, and make big plays.; possibly self-bestowed|
|Pocket Hercules||Maurice Jones-Drew||For his durability as a featured back, his strength to break tackles and to make crucial pancake blocks (most notably on Shawn Merriman) despite his diminutive size.|
|Porcelain Pennington||Chad Pennington||Derogatory reference to his repeated season-ending injuries|
|Pork Chop||Floyd Womack|
|Posse||Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders||Trio of wide receivers on the Washington Redskins of the late 1980s through the early 1990s:|
|Prime Time||Deion Sanders||His ability to step up at critical moments and make big plays; possibly self-bestowed|
|Pudge||William Heffelfinger|
|Purple Jesus||Adrian Peterson||His Vikings uniform color; see also Chris Johnson's nickname, "Light Blue Jesus"|
|Purple People Eaters||Minnesota Vikings defensive line of Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen and Jim MarshallMid-1970s||Reference to the purple uniforms of the Vikings and a takeoff of the 1960s song "One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater"|
|Quiet Storm||Marques Colston||Reference to Colston's shyness and ability to make big plays.|
|Red Rifle||Andy Dalton||Reference to Dalton's red hair.|
|Refrigerator or Fridge||William Perry||His immense size in comparison to other defensive linemen|
|Resolute Runner||Ryan Williams||His fearless running ability|
|Revis Island||Darrelle Revis||His ability to cover wide receivers was compared to being stranded on an island|
|RG3||Robert Griffin III||His name|
|Road Runner||David Wilson||His speed, quickness, agility, and dynamic running ability; given to him while he was at Virginia Tech|
|Rocket||Raghib Ismail||His speed; given to him while he was at Notre Dame|
|Roger the Dodger||Roger Staubach||His ability to avoid the pass rush; given to him while at Navy|
|Run DMC||Darren McFadden||His speed; given to him in beginning of 2011 season, also a play on his initials.|
|Sanchize||Mark Sanchez||Originally given to him when he was picked in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft as he was supposed to be the saviour of the | franchise. Now used more mockingly whenever he performs poorly.|
|The Samoan Head Hunter||Troy Polamalu||His ability to confuse the opposing offense and make bone crushing tackles.|
|Scramblin' Fran||Fran Tarkenton||His ability to avoid defenders in the backfield and penchant for running with the ball if the pass play broke down|
|Silverback||Trent Williams||named after the male gorilla. given to him by teammates and one he embraces. Williams has a huge gorilla tattoo on his back and owns gorilla art.|
|The Sheriff||Peyton Manning||Well known for calling his own plays at the line of scrimmage and hurry-up offense.|
|Silverback||James Harrison||His strength, which is likened to that of a silverback gorilla|
|Sixty Minute Man||Chuck Bednarik||Playing on both offense and defense (and thus playing all sixty minutes of the game); is sometimes applied generally to any player that does this|
|Slash||Kordell Stewart||The punctuation mark used when describing his dual position as a quarterback/receiver.|
|Slingin' Sammy||Sammy Baugh||His affinity for passing the ball, particularly deep downfield|
|Slot Machine||Wes Welker||His effectiveness lining up between the split end/flanker and the linemen (i.e. "the slot")|
|Smash and Dash||Chris Johnson & LenDale White||Running back duo of the Titans starting in 2008; White being Smash for his 'power running back' skills and Johnson being Dash because of his astonishing breakaway speed|
|Smash, Dash, and Tash||Marion Barber III, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice||Dallas Cowboys' 3 man running attack starting in 2008; nod to the Titans' "Smash and Dash"; Barber = Smash (power back), Jones = Dash (speed back), Choice = Tash (contraction of first name)|
|Snake||Knowlton Ames||His speed and elusiveness|
|Snake||Ken Stabler||Earned his nickname from his coach following a long, winding touchdown run|
|Snake||Jake Plummer||His ability of "snaking" around out of pressure in the pocket; also rhymes with first name|
|Smurfs||Gary Clark, Alvin Garrett, and Charlie Brown||1980s Redskins' receiving corps; because of their diminutive size (Garrett was 5'7”, Clark was 5'9”, and Brown the tallest at 5'10”), comparing them to the tiny blue comic and cartoon characters|
|Spiderman||Joe Webb||Drafted as a wide receiver by the Minnesota Vikings, on Brett Favre's insistence Joe Webb was signed to the team as a back-up QB. Went on to lead Vikings to a win in Philadelphia, against Michael Vick and the Eagles playing a must-win game. Lovingly called Spiderman, due to his last name.|
|Superman||Cam Newton||Due to both his unusually athletic physique and habit of pretending to rip open his jersey to reveal a "S" underneath when scoring a rushing touchdown.|
|Sweetness||Walter Payton||Earned in college at Jackson State University for his slick moves on the field, his amazing dancing skills, and his friendly personality.|
|TD||Terrell Davis||His initials, also referring to the abbreviation for "touchdown"; Davis holds the record for most rushing touchdowns in one Super Bowl game with three|
|The GOAT||Jerry Rice||Earned from teammates and other NFL players and Sportscasters, referring to the abbreviation of the Greatest Of All Time.|
|T-Mobile||Tyrod Taylor||His Initials and Scrambling ability|
|Tebow Time||Tim Tebow||Used as Tim Tebow for making comebacks in games|
|That Idiot||Mike Vanderjagt||Before the Pro Bowl in 2003 Vanderjagt questioned the passion of Colt's teammate Peyton Manning & coach Tony Dungy. In response Manning gave an angry sideline interview in which he acknowledged Vanderjagt as a good kicker, but called him an idiot at least four different times.|
|T.O.||Terrell Owens||His initials|
|Tom Terrific||Tom Brady||Given after Brady's terrific play through much of the 2000s, including 3 Super Bowls, 2 League MVPs, 2 Super Bowl MVPs, and the NFL regular season record for passing touchdowns (50) in 2007.|
|The Tasmanian Devil||Troy Polamalu||He plays with a style that borders on reckless, and, like the cartoon character, he is something of whirling dervish.|
|Three Headed Monster||Duce Staley, Correll Buckhalter and Brian Westbrook||Trio of star running backs that all played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003.|
|The Throwin' Samoan||Jack Thompson||A quarterback whose birthplace was American Samoa|
|The Williams Wall||Pat Williams & Kevin Williams||The duo is largely responsible for the Vikings fielding such a stiff run defense, and they make it nearly impossible for the opposition to consistently gain yardage between the tackles.|
|Thunder & Lightning||Keenan McCardell & Jimmy Smith||1996–2001 Jaguars wide receiver tandem; McCardell = Thunder, Smith = Lightning|
|Thunder and Lightning||Ron Dayne & Tiki Barber||2000 Giants running back tandem; Dayne = Thunder, Barber = Lightning|
|Thunder and Lightning||Ricky Watters & Charlie Garner||1995–1997 Eagles running back tandem; Watters = Thunder, Garner = Lightning|
|Tommy Gun aka Touchdown Tommy||Tommy Maddox||Nickname given for Maddox's passing ability, making the Steelers more of a downfield team.|
|Touchdown Tommy||Tommy Vardell||He was given the nickname in college by Stanford head coach Dennis Green after scoring four touchdowns against Notre Dame.|
|Tuel Time||Jeff Tuel||A play on the show-within-a-show Tool Time on the 1990s sitcom Home Improvement.|
|citation needed]The Tyler Rose[||Earl Campbell||Campbell is from Tyler, Texas|
|Two-Minute Tommy||Tommy Kramer||Had a knack for late game come-from-behind wins.|
|Uptown||Gene Upshaw||A play on his name, but also his role as a guard when run-blocking.|
|Wash and Wear||Thomas Jones & Leon Washington||2008–2009 Jets duo of running backs|
|Weapon X/Wolverine||Brian Dawkins||His hard-hitting, game-changing play style. As well as his flying tackles.|
|Well Dressed Amani Toomer||Amani Toomer||Given by Chris Berman, play on Armani suits.|
|White Shoes||Billy Johnson||His choice of footwear at a time when most players wore black cleats|
|The Wheaton Iceman||Harold "Red" Grange||A part-time job he once held delivering ice in his hometown of Wheaton, Illinois|
|Wildman||Ray Nitschke|
|Windy City Flyer and Miami Missile||Devin Hester||Hester's speed and a nickname for the city of Chicago, in which he plays; bestowed by WBBM 780 radio-announcer Jeff Joniak|
|World||Jerry Rice||He acquired the nickname "World" at Mississippi Valley State University because there wasn't a ball in the world he couldn't catch.|
- Big Sombrero: Nickname given to Tampa Stadium, first home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so named because of its curved outline that resembled the brim of a sombrero. Raymond James Stadium, the Buccaneers' home since 1998, was christened The New Sombrero by ESPN anchor Chris Berman.
- Black Hole: Name of the section behind the south end zone at Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Raiders, known for having some of the most rabid fans in the NFL.
- City of Brotherly Hate: Nickname given by NFL.com to fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, particularly after the team's underperformance during the 2011 season, for the fanbase's notorious discontent. The name is a play on the "city of brotherly love," the English translation of the city of Philadelphia's (Greek) name.
- The Clink: A play on the name of Century Link Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.
- Dawg Pound: Name of the bleacher section behind the east end zone in Cleveland Browns Stadium, also known for having one of the most loyal fans in the NFL. The name was originally applied to the same section of Cleveland Municipal Stadium, which formerly stood on the site.
- Frozen Tundra (of Lambeau Field): Nickname given to the home field of the Green Bay Packers. The phrase was allegedly first uttered by NFL Films narrator John Facenda as he described the 1967 NFL Championship Game, or "Ice Bowl", during which Lambeau's undersoil heating system failed and the field froze. However, Steve Sabol of NFL Films denies that Facenda used the phrase; it is thought that an impersonation of Facenda by Chris Berman popularized the phrase. Without a heating system, the severe winter climate of Green Bay, Wisconsin would frequently cause the field to freeze. (The name itself is redundant, since, by definition, all tundra is frozen.)
- House of Pain: House of Pain was used to refer to the Houston Astrodome during NFL games played by the Houston Oilers. This was during the days that Warren Moon was the quarterback, and the Oilers defense was a force to be reckoned with, particularly during the Jerry Glanville years.
- Peanut Heaven: The orange-colored seats in the upper decks of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium.
- JerryWorld: AT&T Stadium, named after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. See stadium's article for full list of current nicknames.
- The Jungle: The nickname for Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati and also at the Bengals current home. The name largely derived in the 1980s from the Guns 'N' Roses' song "Welcome to the Jungle". The Bengals are also known for the "Who Dey" chant. The "Jungle" name has since applied other teams' stadiums with similar mascots.
- The Linc: Nickname for Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
- The Q: A nickname for Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers. The stadium was also nicknamed "The Murph" after its original name of Jack Murphy Stadium.
- Ralph: Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills.
- Razor: New England Patriots stadium Gillette Stadium.
- Rockpile: The seating section underneath the scoreboard at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Considered one of the most raucous environments in the NFL, this section was named after War Memorial Stadium (the home of the Bills prior to Rich Stadium) which was referred to locally as "The Rockpile".
- The Swamp: Giants Stadium's nickname in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
- The 'Stick: Common nickname for Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
- 700 Level: The notorious upper levels of the former Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia between 1971 and 2002. This section was infamous for brawls between Philadelphia Eagles fans and those of visiting teams, especially Cowboys fans.
- Titletown: Referring to both the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin and the 13-time NFL champion Packer teams, including those of legendary coaches Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau.
- The 12th Man: Nickname given to the fans of the Seattle Seahawks because of the impact of their loud cheering on the opposing team's offensive linemen, leading to false start penalties. In an official capacity, this nickname is licensed to the Seahawks by its original owner Texas A&M University at College Station. Used to a lesser extent by the Buffalo Bills.
- 49ers Faithful: Nickname given to the fans of the San Francisco 49ers.
- 4th Phase: Fans of the Chicago Bears. Infers the fans are the 4th phase of the game, after Offense, Defense and Special Teams.
- Bills Backers: Buffalo Bills fans. Because of the massive population displacement of Western New Yorkers, "Bills Backers Bars" can be found in almost every major city throughout the United States.
- Bills Elvis: Entertainer and Elvis impersonator John R. Lang, who appears with a large white guitar that he uses as a billboard. He is one of the Bills' most recognizable individual fans.
- Black Hole: Oakland Raiders fans who sit in a section of the Oakland Coliseum known as the 'black hole' (sections 104, 105, 106, and 107) which is mostly occupied by rowdy fans.
- Boo Birds: Philadelphia Eagles Though used by other teams as well, largely refers to Philadelphia Eagles fans who are know for their tendency to boo for almost any reason and especially at their own team when the Eagles are performing poorly.
- Browns Backers: The fan club for the Cleveland Browns that has over 100,000 members
- Cheeseheads: A name given to people of Wisconsin (mainly Packer fans) by Chicago Bears fans after the Bears won the Super Bowl. The name mocks Wisconsin's love of cheese. The name eventually gained acceptance.
- "Cheeseheads" can refer to the "Packer Nation", being synonymous to Green Bay's massive diaspora of fans nationwide.
- Chief Zee: Fan at nearly all Washington Redskins games since 1978 and considered the unofficial mascot of the team. He wears an Indian headdress, large rimmed glasses, with a red jacket and carries a tomahawk.
- Fireman Ed: Fan at NY Jets home games who wears a green fireman helmet with a Jets logo on the front. Known for leading the "J-E-T-S" chants.
- Franco's Italian Army: Fans of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris.
- Gerela's Gorillas: Fans of Pittsburgh Steelers placekicker Roy Gerela.
- Hogettes: A group of about twelve Washington Redskins fans who dress in drag and wear pig-noses. The name is a takeoff of the Redskins' "Hogs" offensive line.
- Niner Empire: Fans of the San Francisco 49ers. Due to the 49ers Super Bowl dynasty of the 1980s and part way into the 1990s.
- Packer Backer: Fan of the Green Bay Packers. Sometimes used derisively by Bears fans.
- Pinto Ron: Ken Johnson, a well-known fan of the Buffalo Bills known for appearing at all the Bills' home and away games, his bushy beard, his tailgating on a 1980 Ford Pinto (hence his name), and the infamous practice of serving shots of liquor out of a bowling ball, a practice that the league has since banned.
- Redskins Nation Fans of the Washington Redskins
- Raider Nation: Oakland Raiders fans. The first team in the NFL to be characterized as a "nation". The rest of the teams quickly adopted the title and therefore coined a variety of various team "nations".
- Steeler Nation: Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
- SuperSkin: Die-hard fan of the Washington Redskins, who attends each home game dressed in a burgundy and gold superhero costume and motivates other fans to cheer loudly.
- The Sea of Red: Nickname given to the loudest NFL fans of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
- Who Dat Nation: New Orleans Saints fans.
Rules named after NFL figures
Throughout the league's history, a number of rules have been enacted largely because of exploits on the field by a single coach, owner, player, or referee. The following is a partial list of such rule changes:
- Baugh/Marshall rule: A forward pass that strikes the goal posts is automatically ruled incomplete. Enacted in 1946, it is named after Washington Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh and team owner George Preston Marshall. In the previous year's NFL Championship Game, the Rams scored a safety when Baugh, throwing the ball from his own end zone, hit the goal posts (which were on the goal line between 1933 and 1973). The two points were the margin of victory as the Rams won 15–14. Marshall was so mad at the outcome that he was a major force in passing this rule change.
- Bert Emanuel rule: The ball can touch the ground during a completed pass as long as the receiver maintains control of the ball. Enacted in 2000 due to a play in the 1999 NFC championship game, where Emanuel, playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had a catch ruled incomplete since the ball touched the ground.
- Bill Belichick rule: Two defensive players, one primary and one backup, will have a radio device in their helmets allowing the head coach to communicate with them through the radio headset, identical to the radio device inside the helmet of the quarterback. This proposal was defeated in previous years, but was finally enacted in 2008 as a result of Spygate. This rule is the only rule named after a head coach.
- Bronko Nagurski rule: Enacted in 1933, forward passing became legal from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Enacted in response to a controversial call in the 1932 NFL Playoff Game, in which Nagurski completed a two-yard pass to Red Grange for the Chicago Bears' winning touchdown. The rule at the time mandated that a forward pass had to be thrown from at least five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Nagurski appeared to have not dropped back five yards before passing to Grange, but the touchdown stood.
- Calvin Johnson rule: A receiver must maintain possession of the football throughout the completion of the play. This was more precisely a clarification of the existing rules regarding catches, made in 2010 in response to a play by Calvin Johnson, who caught the ball in the endzone, and had it roll out of his hands after he landed. This was ruled incomplete upon review, and upheld, though it generated a lot of discussion about what constituted a catch.
- Carson Palmer rule: A rushing defensive player won't be allowed to forcibly hit a quarterback below the knees, unless they are blocked into. Enacted in the 2006 NFL season after Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was injured in the 2005 AFC Wild Card game after he was hit below by Steelers defender Kimo von Oelhoffen.
- Dave Casper rule: See the "Ken Stabler" rule.
- Deacon Jones rule: No head-slapping. Enacted in 1977 in response to the defensive end's frequently used technique against opponents.
- Deion Sanders rule: Player salary rule which correlates a contract's signing bonus with its yearly salary. Enacted after Sanders signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995 for a minimum salary and a $13 million signing bonus. (There is also a college football rule with this nickname.)
- Ed Hochuli rule: Instant replay can be used to determine whether a loose ball from a passer is definitely a fumble or an incomplete pass. This was enacted in 2009 in response to a play in the San Diego Chargers – Denver Broncos Week 2 regular season game where, in the final minutes, referee Ed Hochuli ruled that Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler threw an incomplete pass. Replays clearly showed it was a fumble, but the play was previously not reviewable.
- Emmitt Smith rule: A player cannot remove his helmet while on the field of play, except in the case of obvious medical difficulty. A violation is treated as unsportsmanlike conduct. Enacted in 1997. The Dallas Cowboys running back was the most high-profile player who celebrated in this manner immediately after scoring a touchdown.
- Fran Tarkenton rule: A line judge was added as the sixth official to ensure that a back was indeed behind the line of scrimmage before throwing a forward pass. Enacted in 1965 in response to Tarkenton, who frequently scrambled around in the backfield from one side to the other.
- Greg Pruitt rule: Tear-away jerseys became illegal starting in 1979. Pruitt purposely wore flimsy jerseys that ripped apart in the hands of would-be tacklers. Such a jersey was most infamously seen in a 1978 game between the Rams and Oilers in which Earl Campbell's jersey ripped apart after several missed tackles.
- Hines Ward rule: The blocking rule makes illegal a blindside block if it comes from the blocker's helmet, forearm or shoulder and lands to the head or neck area of the defender. Enacted in 2009 after the Pittsburgh Steelers receiver broke Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers's jaw while making such a block during the previous season.
- Jerome Bettis rule: Enacted in 1999, the rule states all calls for coin flips will occur before the referee tosses the coin in the air, and at least two officials will be present during the coin toss. This is in response to a call considered one of the "worst in history." In a Thanksgiving Day game with the Detroit Lions on November 26, 1998, Bettis was sent out as the Steelers' representative for the overtime coin toss. Bettis appeared to call "tails" while the coin was in the air but referee Phil Luckett declared that Bettis called "heads" and awarded possession to Detroit, who would go on to win the game before Pittsburgh had the chance to have possession.
- Jim Schwartz rule: Modifying the "no-challenge" rule adopted prior to the 2012 season to eliminate the automatic "no-review" penalty when a coach challenges a play that is subject to automatic review by the replay booth (turnovers, scoring plays, and any play inside of the two-minute warning). This change was prompted after last season's Thanksgiving Day game when Detroit Lions' head coach Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag on a play where replay clearly showed Houston Texans' running back Justin Forsett's knee touched the ground, but was able to get up and score a touchdown. Due to the way the rule was written at the time the penalty for the errant challenge prevented the play from being reviewed. Under the revised rule teams will be charged a time-out (or an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty if the team is out of time-outs) when a coach throws a challenge flag on a booth-reviewable play, but the play will still be reviewed if the replay booth believes a review is necessary.
- Ken Stabler rule: On fourth down at any time in the game or any down in the final two minutes of a half, if a player fumbles forward, only the fumbling player can recover and/or advance the ball. If that player's teammate recovers the ball, it is placed back at the spot of the fumble. A defensive player can recover and advance at any time of play. Enacted in 1979 in response to the 1978 "Holy Roller" play that resulted in a last-minute game-winning touchdown over San Diego, in which Oakland Raiders quarterback Stabler fumbled the ball forward, and tight end Dave Casper eventually performed a soccer-like dribble before falling on it in the end zone.
- Lester Hayes rule: No Stickum allowed. Enacted in 1981 in response to the Oakland Raiders defensive back, who used the sticky substance to improve his grip.
- Lou Groza rule: No artificial medium to assist in the execution of a kick. Enacted in 1956 in response to Groza, who used tape and later a special tee with a long tail to help him guide his foot to the center spot of the football.
- Mel Blount rule: Officially known as illegal use of hands, defensive backs can only make contact with receivers within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Enacted in its current form in 1978. While playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive back Blount frequently used physical play against receivers he was covering.
- Mel Renfro rule: Allows a second player on the offense to catch a tipped ball, without a defender subsequently touching it. Enacted in 1978. One of the first high-profile "victims" of the old rule was Dallas Cowboys defensive back Renfro in Super Bowl V; his tip of a pass allowed the Baltimore Colts' John Mackey to legally catch the ball and run in for a 75-yard touchdown.
- NaVorro Bowman rule: Enacted in 2014, this rule subjects plays in which a loose ball has been recovered to instant replay. Named for Bowman, who during an incident in the previous season's NFC Championship Game recovered a fumble after the officials had blown the play dead.
- Neil Smith rule: Prevents a defensive lineman from flinching to induce a false start penalty on the offense. Enacted in 1998. Smith had frequently used that technique while playing for both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos.
- Phil Dawson rule: Certain field goals can be reviewed by instant replay, including kicks that bounce off the uprights. Under the previous system, no field goals could be replayed. Enacted in 2008 in response to an unusual field goal by the Cleveland Browns kicker in a 2007 game against Baltimore: the ball first bounced off the left upright, then back onto the rear curved post (stanchion), then back out over the crossbar and into the end zone, in front of the goalpost. It was initially ruled by the officials as "no good", but was reversed "upon discussion".
- Red Grange rule: Prohibits college football players from signing with NFL teams until after their college class had graduated. The rule was enacted after Red Grange and Ernie Nevers joined the Chicago Bears and Duluth Eskimos, respectively, immediately after their final college football games in 1925.
- Ricky (Williams) rule: Rule declared that hair could not be used to block part of the uniform from a tackler and, therefore, an opposing player could be tackled by his hair. Enacted in 2003. Rule was so-named after running back Williams' long dread-locks.
- (Dan) Rooney Rule: Requires teams to interview minority candidates for a head coaching opportunity. Enacted in 2003. Pittsburgh Steelers owner Rooney was a major proponent of such a change.
- Roy Williams rule: No horse-collar tackles. Enacted in 2005 after the Dallas Cowboys safety broke Terrell Owens's ankle and Musa Smith's leg on horse-collar tackles during the previous season.
- Shawne Merriman rule: Bans any player from playing in the Pro Bowl if he tests positive for using a performance-enhancing drug during that season. Enacted in 2007 after the San Diego Chargers linebacker played at the 2007 Pro Bowl after testing positive and serving a four-game suspension during the preceding season.
- Steelers rule: The details have yet to be finalized, but the NFL has announced that in coming seasons, not just players, but teams could face fines if a series of illegal hits is seen from any particular organization. The rule has been met with significant criticisms, understandably from the Steelers organization, and from others that fear the new rules will dampen the spirit of the game and make professional football "too soft".
- Steve Tasker rule: On punt returns, gunners receive a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for deliberately running out of bounds to avoid blocks, a tactic frequently used by Tasker before the rule was implemented.
- Tom Brady rule: A clarification to the Carson Palmer rule; prohibits a defender on the ground from lunging or diving at a quarterback's legs unless that defender has been blocked or fouled into the signal-caller. Enacted in 2009 in response to a play by Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard, who on the ground sacked Brady and injured the Patriots quarterback's MCL and ACL, sidelining him for the rest of the 2008 season.
- Tom Dempsey rule: Any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe. Enacted in 1977. Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot and no right arm, wore a modified shoe with a flattened and enlarged toe surface, generating controversy about whether such a shoe gave him an unfair advantage kicking field goals. Dempsey's game-winning 63-yard field goal in 1970 was the longest in NFL history until the Denver Broncos' Matt Patter kicked a 64-yard field goal on December 8, 2013.
- Ty Law rule (also known as the Rodney Harrison rule): Enacted in 2004, placed more emphasis on the Mel Blount rule. Enacted after Law, Harrison, and the rest of the New England Patriots defense utilized an aggressive coverage scheme, involving excessive jamming of wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, in the 2003 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
- Baltimore Triangle: The mid-field logo at M&T Bank Stadium of the Baltimore Ravens. It is named so because the mid-field shield logo of the Ravens is shaped like a triangle and their defense "makes offenses disappear" when opposing teams take snaps from that area.
- Boise Rule: A rule instituted by the NFL in 2011 banning non-green playing surfaces. "Boise" refers to Bronco Stadium, the home field of Boise State University, famous for its blue playing surface. The rule was viewed as a reaction to potential sponsor influence, as no NFL team had considered adopting a non-green surface.
- The Duke: A nickname for the late Wellington Mara, long time owner of the New York Giants. The nickname stems from the Duke of Wellington, an actual English hereditary title. This nickname was extended to the official game ball used by the NFL "The Duke" named in honor of Mr. Mara. To this day one can notice the moniker "THE DUKE." branded into every official NFL football just to the left of the NFL Shield. (In Denver, the same nickname was given to quarterback John Elway, after a teammate noticed that his walk to the huddle before The Drive in 1987 looked like John Wayne's.)
- Harbaugh Bowl: Rare games when brothers John and Jim Harbaugh, both NFL head coaches, met as opponents, which included Super Bowl XLVII, the first Super Bowl in which brothers were opposing coaches. The games have also been given nicknames like the "HarBowl".
- Ickey Shuffle: Dance done by Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods whenever he scored a touchdown. Woods was forced to move the dance to the sidelines behind the Bengals' bench after officials starting penalizing him for unsportsmanlike conduct.
- K-Gun: Nickname referring to the no-huddle offense used by the Buffalo Bills with quarterback Jim Kelly during the late 1980s and early to mid-1990s.
- Lambeau Leap: During home games at Lambeau Field, some players from the Green Bay Packers would leap into the stands after scoring a touchdown. Originally created by LeRoy Butler, it was made popular by Robert Brooks. Players in other stadiums imitate the leap.
- The Legend of Kiko Alonso: Humorous anecdotes about linebacker Kiko Alonso, done in the style of Chuck Norris facts.
- Lights out: Dance by linebacker Shawne Merriman after he gets a sack.
- Manning Bowl: Rare games when quarterback brothers Peyton (formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, now with the Denver Broncos) and Eli Manning (New York Giants) met as opponents.
- Miami Pound Machine: Nickname for the 1980s Dolphins defense, named in honor of Gloria Estefan's group "Miami Sound Machine". Gloria and her manager-husband Emilio Estefan would become minority owners of the 'Phins before the 2009 season.
- Miami Vise: Also a Dolphins defense nickname, after the TV show Miami Vice.
- Mile High Salute: Mid-to-late 1990s Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis would salute his soldier father after scoring touchdowns. Many people misinterpret the salute as a “salute” to the scoring player or the fans or teammates in general. The salute was very specific, the running back (Terrell Davis) was saluting his blocking back (usually Howard Griffith) for making the touchdown possible. The first and third sentences of this description offer competing (possibly complementary, albeit very poorly phrased) interpretations: was the salute to/for his soldier father or to/for his blocking back? The link provides no evidentiary support for either interpretation.
- No Fun League: Used by various reports criticizing the league for its sanctions imposed on teams. Popularized by the XFL.
- Sack Dance: New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau was nationally famous for doing his signature "Sack Dance" after sacking an opposing quarterback. However, he had to stop when the NFL declared it "unsportsman like taunting" in March 1984 and began fining players for it. The ban on the Sack Dance stemmed from a 1983 game against the Los Angeles Rams, when Gastineau and Rams Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jackie Slater got into a fight following a Gastineau sack of Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo.
- Tebowing: A pose imitating Tim Tebow's stance when praying; Tebow, a devout Christian, is often seen in prayer. Tebow has been indifferent to those who have used the pose to mock him, but has praised those who have done it out of respect for his faith.
- Terrible Towel: a banner conceived by the late Myron Cope (long time Steeler commentator) used by fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers to cheer for their team, consisting of a yellow towel with the words "Terrible Towel" in black, to be waved in the air. The Carolina Panthers also began a spin-off known as the "Growl Towel". Also spoofed by the Packers following their third Super Bowl victory as the "Title Towel". Similar traditions have also started in other sports, as Towel Power used by the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League and the Homer Hanky used by Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins.
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