Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Probably True Origins of AFC Nicknames

By Kevin Beane

A common complaint of elders to youngsters is that they don't know history and don't think anyone came before them.

This certainly is true for the NFL. Where did the iconic franchises we love even get their names? I'm here to tell you how. This week, we'll do the AFC, and return in two weeks for the NFC.

Baltimore Ravens — Named after a famous poem done by Baltimore's very own Maya Angelou.

Buffalo Bills — Named after the famed Old West frontiersman, Wyatt "Bill" Earp.

Cincinnati Bengals — Relocated from Calcutta in the Bengali region of India, kept name. Led the great Calcutta-to-Cincinnati pipeline of the early '60s, where thousands of businesses and millions of individuals made the move.

Cleveland Browns — It was a fad at the time to name teams of any sports after colors, such as the Cincinnati Reds, the Homestead Grays, and the Boston Caucasians.

Denver Broncos — Like the Titans, name after an early sponsor: the Bron Co. Kansas City Chiefs — As in police chiefs. An early logo depicted several police officers beating and sodomizing a minority suspect with police batons and then releasing him without charge. That was before those damn PC Nazis made them change it and killed free speech again.

Houston Texans — Kept name after moving from Wisconsin, where they were the Milwaukee Texans.

Indianapolis Colts — Named after Colt .45 malt liquor. Billy Dee WIlliams' face used to be their helmet logo.

Jacksonville Jaguars — Named by a prominent name artist hired by the city. He said, "Let's call them the Jacksonville ... the Jacksonville ... .um ... God ... I don't know ... um, Jacksonville Ja ... Ja ... .Ja ... um ... Ja ... Jaguars. $50,000, please.

Miami Dolphins — Changed their name from the more cumbersome Miami Things Caught in Tuna Nets Besides Tuna.

New England Patriots — Named in 1960 in anticipation of the patriotic surge of 2001.

New York Jets — Named in honor of New Yorkers' legendary affinity for travel to the heartland of the country, and complete lack of disdain for non-New Yorkers.

Oakland Raiders — As in corporate and legal raiders, reflecting Al Davis's love for lawsuits. He famously won a temporary injunction preventing any other teams from using the letters R, A, I, D, E, R, or S in their names, leading to the birth of such legendary teams as the New York Youth, Atlanta Bug, and the Boston Zoxon.

Pittsburgh Steelers — Named after their first owner, Ezekiel Pittsburgh Steelers.

San Diego Chargers — No one knows, but mentions of the franchise and its name date back at least to 1200 BC, and cave paintings of LaDanian Tomlinson and Dan Fouts have been discovered in North Africa.

Tennessee Titans — Named after an early sponsor of the team, Titan Unethical Racist Science Experiments, Inc.

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