The Mightiest Team Nickname, NFL Edition

One sort of parlor topic that I've been kicking around for years is, "What is the strongest in a 'who would win in a fight" kind of way nickname in all of U.S. sports?"

And I have an answer, I think, although there's also one wild card that could also make a case. That's for a future column, however, and neither champion or the wildcard comes from the NFL.

Rather than make this a bracket style tournament and have it go for thousands of words, I'll be looking at this on a division-by-division basis, and go from there.

NFC EAST: As a bleeding-heart liberal it pains me to say this, but the Cowboys have to beat the Redskins because in our lore, cowboys generally have guns, Native Americans have bows and arrows, and cowboys "won" the historical battle.

The Eagles don't fare well, and nor will any other birds. Sure, they can evade like no one else, but in this competition, you have to be able to fight. I don't see any bird taking down an adult human, especially one with a weapon.

The Giants are a bit of a enigma, because just how giant are we talkin'? If it's eight feet tall, with no other implied abilities, a cowboy could still easily shoot and kill him. If he's 8,000 feet tall, a bullet would be like a BB and he could simply step on his foes.

To answer this question, I turn to to find out when New York last featured an actual giant in their logo (if ever). Turns out, they currently use a giant in one of their alternate logos. While I need to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's dug a large hole in the stadium to stand in and he isn't an amputee, a standard cowboy is no match for him either way.


NFC NORTH: This is a tough one. The only one we can immediately rule out is Packers. Blue-collar meat workers are tough, but can't be assumed to have a weapon or the ability to kill a wild animal with their bare hands. Who would win in a fight between a bear and a lion though? And does a viking's axe render the question moot?

Maybe this is a cop-out, and a way to avoid the tough bear vs. lion question, but vikings are strong and I think it would only take one accurate swing of the axe to seriously hamper the bear/lion, and a few more to finish him off.


NFC SOUTH: While the more amusing question might be who would win in a fight between a falcon and a saint, when it's reasonable to assume the saint would refuse to fight and hence might even lose an interdivision fight with a cardinal, this comes down to wild animal (panther) vs. weapon-bearing human (buccaneer) again. I have to be consistent, here:

CHAMPION: Buccaneers

NFC WEST: Another tough one. We can rule out the Cardinal and Seahawks right away, but what about Rams vs. 49ers? Because on one hand, I would say a ram is less of a threat than a lion, bear, or panther, but on the other hand, a 49er's weapon, unlike the other weapons, isn't made for fighting and 49ers aren't known for fighting. I think I still lean the same way though; hard to see a ram coming back from a pickaxe between the eyes.


NFC OVERALL: If a cowboy can't beat a giant with a gun, the other three aren't beating him with handheld weapons.


AFC EAST: The wild card here is the Patriots. Their logo history suggests that this isn't simply a person proud of their country, but a revolutionary war fighter, and so I'm giving him a musket. Buffalo vs. dolphin presents some interesting possibilities, since neither can survive on the other one's home turf, but at least a buffalo has horns.

Really though, this is all immaterial, a jet plowing into any of these creatures is vaporizing them into tiny bits.


AFC NORTH: Our first (and thankfully, last) color nickname in this competition. You could use your imagination to decide the Browns win the whole thing. Because how exactly is "brown" embodied? Is it poop? That's how they've played for many years. How much poop? A galaxy of it that will suffocate all living beings.

But that's an unfair flight of fancy, to say the least. This really comes down to Bengals vs. Steelers. I don't think all, or even most, steelworkers have that metal-forging hammer, so this one is going to the Bengals. Packers vs. Steelers would be an interesting interconference matchup.


AFC SOUTH: This comes down to whether I give the Texan a gun or not. According to a recent poll, 44% of Texans own a gun. So there you have it: the majority do not. Sorry, Texan. If this was a salsa dancing contest or a chili cook-off, you would win.

As usual, though, the human with a weapon wins.


AFC WEST: Tough one all around, with only the Broncos easy to eliminate. Raiders have swords. Chiefs have arrows. That said, chiefs are usually old and their best fighting days are behind them. So that little subset goes to the Raiders.

The Chargers is very tough to quantify. As much as their logos feature bolts of lightning, "Chargers" actually refers to a cavalry charge; the original owner was inspired by the "CHARGE!" call at USC games.

So can we think of them a cavalry? Maybe. But while buccaneers, raiders, vikings, and so on usually come in groups, I've only considered a single unit of each of them in these fights. And one man can charge, alone. So I think I'm going to have to give this one to the silver & black.


AFC CHAMPION: We still haven't seen anything that a jet wouldn't annihilate.


NFL CHAMPION: It's an all-New York affair! Once again, this comes down to how giant the giant is, and we now have an answer to this question.

It's a very large giant, but not as big as a skyscraper, something we have some, ehm, recent history to judge by. I'm sorry.


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