List of NFL nicknames
The following are nicknames throughout the history of the National Football League (NFL).
Teams and unitsEdit
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.
- 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.)
- Big Blue: An abridged version of the New York Giants nickname Big Blue Wrecking Crew
- 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.
- Blitzburgh: Name of the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive unit since the mid-1990s and their tendency to relentlessly attack opposing quarterbacks.
- The Blue Wave: Name of the Seattle Seahawks teams of the 1980's which included Hall of Famers Steve Largent and Kenny Easley. Quarterbacked by Dave Krieg and coached by Chuck Knox. The expansion franchise started to gain momentum and go on a roll.
- Bruise Brothers: San Diego Chargers defensive line in the 1970s and 1980s.
- 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 (but is still a nickname for the Texans). 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 in addition to numerous draft busts. 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: nickname originally given to the 2003 Carolina Panthers and later to the Detroit Lions of the 2010s.
- Cardiac Jags: the Jacksonville Jaguars earned this nickname because of making several comeback wins and/or winning nail-biters.
- 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 end zone dance started by Jamal Anderson that was adopted by all the players upon scoring.
- The Dream Team: In the 2011 offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles signed many notable free agents including Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Evan Mathis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (acquired in a trade), and Vince Young. Young declared the Eagles to be a "Dream Team." The Eagles finish 8-8 in 2011 and 4-12 in 2012, with longtime head coach Andy Reid getting fired after the 2012 season.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Greatest Show on Turf: The 1999–2001 St. Louis Rams record-breaking offensive team. They were recognized as one of the greatest offenses to play in NFL history. (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.
- Ground Chuck: Nickname for the conservative, ball-control offense favored by coach Chuck Knox.
- The Iggles: Nickname for the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Homeland Defense: Nickname for the New England Patriots defense during their runs to Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX.
- Hogs: The Washington Redskins' offensive line. During their heydays, they were considered one of the largest and strongest offensive lines in football history, originally consisting of Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Mark May, George Starke, and Jeff Bostic.
- Jackson 5: Nickname of the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars secondary coming from the famous music group
- Kardiac Kids: The 1980 Cleveland Browns, who had a penchant for having games decided in the final moments.
- 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.
- The Killer B's: Three members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, consisting of Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and sometimes Chris Boswell. Name was first used during the 2016 NFL season.
- Legion of Boom: The dominant secondary of the Seattle Seahawks, consisting of All-Pro safety tandem Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor as well as the league's largest set of corners in 6'4" Pro Bowler Brandon Browner and 6'3" All-Pro Richard Sherman. The term has come to encompass the entire defense.
- Marty Ball: Coach Marty Schottenheimer's football strategy.
- Miami Pound Machine The nickname of the late 1980's and early 90's Dolphins defense coming from the band that Gloria Estavan started The Miami Sound Machine
- Mile High No Fly Zone: Self-named defense for the 2015 Denver Broncos. It refers to the team's All-Pro Secondary that included Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, combined with a top of the league pass rush led by Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller. Wade Phillips 3-4 defense led the league in most defensive categories and was wisely considered the best of the NFL.
- 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.
- 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".
- Purple Pain: This Baltimore Ravens nickname stems from the team's color, purple. It is also an allusion to the movie and song "Purple Rain".
- 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 1958 Sheb Wooley song "Purple People Eater."
- Purple Murder: The Baltimore Ravens' color is purple. A group of crows is called a "murder of crows", and Ravens are similar to crows. Technically, a group of Ravens is referred to as an "unkindness of ravens". Purple Unkindness is a less catchy nickname. In addition, Ray Lewis, a longtime member of the Ravens, was implicated in a murder case during his playing career, possibly popularizing the phrase.
- Sack Pack: The defensive line of the Baltimore Colts in the mid-to-late 1970s. The Sack Pack were defensive tackles Joe Ehrmann (#76) and Mike Barnes (#63) 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.
- Sacksonville: A portmanteau of the word sack and the city of Jacksonville. "Sacksonville" is used to refer to the Jacksonville Jaguars defense which is known to cause a high number of sacks, interceptions, and turnovers
- 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: Nickname given to the defensive line of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, the backbone of a dominant defense. The nickname was a play on the phrase Iron Curtain during the height of the Cold War.
- Sons of Anarchy: The New York Jets defensive line of the early 2010s consisting of Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson. Alludes to the FX television series of the same name which was highly popular at the time.
- 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
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.|
|All Day or AD||Adrian Peterson||Given to him by his parents because he would run "all day"|
|Amish Rifle||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Fitzpatrick has regularly grown a thick beard over the course of the football season, drawing comparisons to the Amish, who have a large community south of Buffalo, where he was playing at the time the name was bestowed in 2010.|
|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 Man||Aaron Rodgers||Invented by Stephen A. Smith|
|Bad Moon||Andre Rison||Given nickname by ESPN's Chris Berman in reference to CCR's song "Bad Moon Rising".|
|BallSoHard/ T Sizzle||Terrell Suggs||Suggs claims that the reason he plays so toughly and aggressively is because he went to BallSoHard University; however, he did admit in an interview during the 2011 NFL season that he got the name from the commonly known lyric in the Jay Z song "Niggas in Paris", feat. Kanye West.|
|Ball Hawk||Ed Reed||Reed was always there to make a play on the ball (i.e. pass defense or interception).|
|Bam Bam||Kam Chancellor||For his devastatingly big hitting ability. Also referred to as 'Kamtrack' and 'Kam Chancellor the Touchdown Canceller'.|
|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 Balls Doug||Doug Pederson||Given due to his aggressive style of play calling. In particular, he frequently chooses to 'go for it' on fourth down instead of punting or attempting a field goal.|
|Big Ben||Ben Roethlisberger||His imposing size, a nod to the large clock on the Elizabeth Tower in London|
|Big Daddy||Dan Wilkinson||His 6'5", 340 lb frame|
|Big Daddy||Gene Lipscomb||At 6'9" and 290 lb, Lipscomb, a professional wrestler during the offseason, was one of the largest players in professional football during the 1950s.|
|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 Snack||Casey Hampton||Apparent reference to his large size and penchant for eating|
|Big Z||Zach Zenner||Nickname referring to his bruising play style, as well as the first letter in his first and last name|
|Black Unicorn||Martellus Bennett|
|Blonde Bomber||Terry Bradshaw||His blond hair combined with his tendencies to throw the ball down the field, hence "bomber"|
|Blood||John McNally||Inspired by the film Blood and Sand, McNally took the first name to hide his identity while he first went professional, hoping someday to return to college football (he never did).|
|Boobie||Anthony Dixon||The nickname comes from Boobie Miles, of Friday Night Lights fame, and was bestowed by his teammates in college.|
|Brickwall||Ray Lewis||Lewis had the ability to hit players very hard and often injured them. Many players compared one of Lewis's hits to the feeling of running into a brick wall.|
|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. An illusion to Broadway theater, Namath was known for his showmanship.|
|Breesus||Drew Brees||Play on Brees's last name and his perception as the savior of Saints Football.|
|Buck||Javorius Allen||His high school teammates referred to him as "young buck" as he was a freshman on the varsity team.|
|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.|
|The Bus||Jerome Bettis||Because of his ability to carry tacklers on his back like a "bus"|
|Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid||Larry Csonka & Jim Kiick||Miami Dolphins running back duo from 1968 to 1974; named after the movie about the famous outlaws.|
|Cadillac||Carnell Williams||A high school broadcaster at Etowah High School in Attalla, Alabama compared Williams' running to a luxury car.|
|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 Chaos||Chris Cooley||Adapted from Dom DeLuise's character in The Cannonball Run; possibly due to shared initials.|
|Captain Kirk||Kirk Cousins||Nickname adapted from the Star Trek character James Kirk.|
|Captain Comeback||Roger Staubach||Name given to quarterback Roger Staubach during his career with the Dallas Cowboys during the 1970s for his ability to bring back his team from being down during important games. Also referred to as Captain America for his strong old fashioned beliefs likening him to the comic book hero.|
|Comeback Kid||Joe Montana||Nickname given to Joe Montana for his comeback wins and in college and pros.|
|Concrete Charlie||Chuck Bednarik||Bednarik worked as a concrete salesman during the NFL's offseason and was known for his hard hits and persistent endurance.|
|Crazy Legs||Elroy Hirsch||Named for his unusual running style.|
|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.|
|DangeRuss||Russell Wilson||For his playmaking ability, both with his arm and legs. The most dangerous player on the field.|
|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 to 2014, previously known as Smash and Dash|
|Dougie Fresh||Doug Pederson||A play on the name Doug E. Fresh. Given to Pederson by Jalen Mills.|
|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||1984 San Francisco 49ers defensive secondary led by Dwight Hicks|
|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, and Ahmad Bradshaw||2008 NY Giants running backs; Jacobs = Earth, Ward = Wind, Bradshaw = Fire|
|ELIte||Eli Manning||Play on 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 Enforcer||Kenny Easley||Easley rightfully earned his nickname as “The Enforcer” for this style of play on the field.
An all-around great athlete, he earned recognition for his abilities including 5 Pro Bowl selections, 5 total All-Pro selections, AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1981, AFC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1983, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team honors, is in the Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, despite only playing for 7 seasons.
|The Face Cleaver||Leonard Weaver|
|Famous Jameis||Jameis Winston||A nod to Winston's high public profile during his college and professional careers, as well as a play on the Famous Amos cookie brand. Winston has filed for a trademark on the nickname.|
|Fast Willie||Willie Parker||His speed|
|Fatso||Art Donovan||A reference to his large frame.|
|Fearsome Foursome||Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen, and Deacon Jones||A name given to the 1960's Rams dominant defensive line of the era and arguably of all time.|
|Feeva Island||Jason Verrett||During his media session at the combine, Verrett explained that his nickname is Feeva Island because he's "a player that's always hot" like he has a fever and he often plays man-to-man coverage "on an island."|
|Fitzmagic||Ryan Fitzpatrick||His ability to turn around a long-struggling Buffalo Bills offensive attack after several years of mediocrity.|
|Flash 80||Jerry Rice||His stunning plays combined with his number, 80|
|Flash Gordon||Josh Gordon||Gained by outrunning defenders|
|The Samoan Headhunter||Troy Polamalu||His style of diving into receivers and diving into pass paths for interception, and for Polamalu's Polynesian ancestry|
|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||A play on his first name and FedEx.|
|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||Early 1980s Washington Redskins wide receivers and tight ends||This group's choreographed touchdown celebrations led to a league-wide ban of "excessive celebration" in 1984.|
|Galloping Ghost||Harold "Red" Grange|
|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".|
|Golden Wheels||Elbert Dubenion||Johnny Green, a backup quarterback on Dubenion's Buffalo Bills, gave Dubenion a backhanded compliment admiring his exceptional speed while claiming he couldn't catch a football: "he's sure got those golden wheels."|
|Gronk||Rob Gronkowski||Shortening of his last name which is Gronkowski. Also a play off of the Incredible Hulk due to Rob's size, power, and dominance.|
|Greg the Leg||Greg Zuerlein||The nickname in question refers to Zuerlein's ability of making field goals from a distance.|
|Hausch Money||Steven Hauschka||Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, coined the nickname in response to Hauschka's ability to kick field goals in clutch situations. The name was revived, possibly independently, when Hauschka joined the Buffalo Bills and continued to make key field goals, often from long range.|
|Headhunter||Jackie Wallace||Wallace led with his head frequently during his playing career, a tactic that in hindsight Wallace suspected may have caused brain damage later in life.|
|He Hate Me||Rod Smart||Self-bestowed nickname Smart used on the back of his jersey during his time in the XFL. Smart credits the nickname with helping him break into the NFL after the XFL folded.|
|Hit and Run||Thomas Jones and Leon Washington||New York Jets running back duo from 2008 to 2009|
|Honey Badger||Tyrann Mathieu||His ball instincts and his dyed blonde hair|
|Hogs||1980s and early 1990s Washington Redskins offensive line||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||Dante Hall||Nickname given to him by coach Vermeil because of his big play ability in the return game|
|Iceman||Carlos Huerta||Bestowed in college, Huerta was renowned for keeping his composure (staying cool) in stressful situations.|
|Intellectual Assassin||Ron Mix||Mix had a degree in law at the time he played professional football.|
|Iron Head||Craig Heyward||Heyward had an unusually large head, which he often used as a battering ram.|
|Iron Mike||Mike Ditka|
|Joe Cool||Joe Montana and Joe Flacco||Joe Montana's ability to remain calm in pressure situations earned him the nickname. It has been used for Joe Flacco for his cool demeanor, especially during the postseason.|
|Juice||O.J. Simpson||Based on the initials of his first and middle name (OJ)|
|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 "William "Refrigerator" Perry"|
|The King||Jim Corcoran||Corcoran, a journeyman quarterback whose NFL career was quite brief, earned a reputation for pomposity in high school when Corcoran, coming onto the field in a clean uniform after a rainstorm, drew a cheer of "hail to the King!" from a spectator.|
|The King||Hugh McElhenny||Because he was "the most feared running back in the NFL."|
|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|
|Legion of Boom||Seahawks defensive backs/entire defense (Richard Sherman/Kam Chancellor/Earl Thomas/Brandon Browner/Byron Maxwell)||Hard hitting nature of the Seahawks defensive backs. A play on the Legion of Doom, a team of comic book supervillains. The nickname was originally coined as a moniker for the Seahawks secondary but over time it had grown to encompass the entire defense.|
|Lights Out||Shawne Merriman||Because of his reputation of being a hard hitter; has been shortened to "Lights" by teammates in interviews|
|M-80||Malcom Floyd||His first initial and jersey number combined, also for his deep play ability.|
|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.|
|The Mad Bomber||Daryle Lamonica||Lamonica tended to throw, or "bomb", the ball deep during unnecessary situations.|
|Mad Duck||Alex Karras||Because of his short legs, he appeared to waddle like a duck.|
|The Mad Stork||Ted Hendricks||While playing for the University of Miami, the tall, thin Hendricks gained the nickname “The Mad Stork.”|
|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 Matt Ryan's ability to have long game-winning drives under pressure; also a play on "Natty Ice", a low-end beer brewed by Anheuser-Busch InBev|
|Meast||Sean Taylor||Half Man, half beast|
|Megatron||Calvin Johnson||A reference to his large frame, comparing him to a Transformers character|
|The Minister Of Defense||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"|
|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.|
|Muscle Hamster||Doug Martin||Originally the nickname of his college girlfriend who was a short but powerful gymnast and later became Martin's nickname as well due to his short stature.|
|Mr. Automatic||Kickers||Nickname given to any kicker that is doing well.|
|Nickfoleon Dynamite||Nick Foles||A portmanteau on the names of Foles and the fictional character Napoleon Dynamite due to their similar appearance.|
|Nigerian Nightmare||Christian Okoye||To his homeland as well as to the difficulty he posed to defenses|
|Night Train||Dick "Night Train" Lane||Due to his fear of flying, Lane road a night train to away games while the rest of the team flew|
|Nuk||DeAndre Hopkins||From his mother. Named after the brand of pacifier he enjoyed as a baby.|
|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|
|Pillsbury Throwboy||Jared Lorenzen||One of the many nicknames the portly back-up QB acquired over the years. Other nicknames include : J-Load, Hefty Lefty, Abominable Throwman, Round Mound of Touchdown, Quarter(got)back, He Ate Me, and BBQ (Big Beautiful Quarterback). During his playing career Lorenzen consistently weighed almost 300 pounds.|
|The Playmaker||Michael Irvin||For his ability to defeat tight coverage, even double coverage, and make big plays.; possibly self-bestowed|
|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|
|Purple People Eaters||Late-1960s to 70's Minnesota Vikings defensive line of Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen and Jim Marshall||Reference to the purple uniforms of the Vikings and a takeoff of the 1958 Sheb Wooley song "Purple People Eater."|
|Quiet Storm||Marques Colston||Reference to Colston's shyness and ability to make big plays.|
|The Refrigerator or The Fridge||William Perry||His immense size in comparison to other defensive linemen|
|Revis Island||Darrelle Revis||His ability to cover wide receivers was compared to being stranded on an island|
|RG3||Robert Griffin III||His name|
|Rocket||Raghib Ismail||His speed; given to him while he was at Notre Dame|
|Run DMC||Darren McFadden||His speed; given to him in beginning of 2011 season, also a play on his initials. Also reference to the hip-hop group Run-D.M.C.|
|Sammy Sleeves||Sam Bradford||Due to his tendency to wear jerseys with longer sleeves.|
|Sausage||Anthony Sherman||Given to him by Kansas City Chiefs play-by-play announcer Mitch Holthus.|
|Shady||LeSean McCoy||His mother gave him the nickname as he had lots of mood changes when he was young.|
|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. Bednarik is generally recognized as the last to have r|
|Slingin' Sammy||Sammy Baugh||His affinity for passing the ball, particularly deep downfield|
|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|
|Snacks, Big Snacks||Damon Harrison||Based on his refusal to eat Rice Krispie Treats left for him by the coaching staff|
|Snake||Ken Stabler||Earned his nickname from his coach following a long, winding touchdown run|
|The Snake||Jake Plummer||His ability of "snaking" around out of pressure in the pocket; also a play on the wrestler Jake "The Snake" Roberts' nickname|
|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||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.|
|Sweet Feet||James White||A nickname that carried on from high school to the pros due to his quickness while running the ball.|
|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 Kid||Jared Goff||Often referred to by fans and anchors as "a" or "the" kid because of his facial young look to him.|
|T-Mobile||Tyrod Taylor||From the wireless carrier T-Mobile, Taylor's initials and his scrambling style of play|
|T.O.||Terrell Owens||His initials|
|Three Headed Monster||Duce Staley, Correll Buckhalter and Brian Westbrook||Trio of star running backs that all played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003.|
|Thunder and Lightning||Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath||1976–1980 New Orleans Saints dynamic running back duo known as "Thunder and Lightning". The nickname is credited to former Saints Head Coach Hank Stram.|
|Tuel Time||Jeff Tuel||A play on the show-within-a-show Tool Time on the 1990s sitcom Home Improvement.|
|Tuna||Bill Parcells||Bestowed in 1980, well after his (very brief) NFL playing career ended, when Parcells was an assistant with the New England Patriots, as an homage to the advertising icon Charlie the Tuna.|
|The Tyler Rose||Earl Campbell||Campbell is from Tyler, Texas|
|Two Point Tupa||Tom Tupa||Tupa took advantage of the legalization of the two-point conversion in the 1994 NFL season; as holder on extra points, he picked the ball up and ran for the conversion three times that season, the first NFL player to score that way.|
|Uncle Rico||Kyle Orton||Orton bore a resemblance to Uncle Rico, a washed-up former high school backup quarterback in the movie Napoleon Dynamite, especially during his time with the Buffalo Bills. Prior to his signing with the Bills, he earned the nickname Neckbeard for his facial hair.|
|Uptown||Gene Upshaw||A play on his name, but also his role as a guard when run-blocking.|
|Weapon X||Brian Dawkins||His hard-hitting, game-changing play style. As well as his flying tackles.|
|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|
|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.|
|Windy City Flyer||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|
|WD40||Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn||For Dunn's initials and Alstott's jersey No. 40, a play on the proprietary lubricant of the same name.|
|World||Jerry Rice||He acquired the nickname "World" at Mississippi Valley State University because there was no pass in the world he could not catch.|
|Yoda||Steve Largent||For his ability to use the "force" to visualize himself making any catch.|
- The Big Crabcake given to M&T Bank Stadium by announcers for the Baltimore, Maryland area being known for its love of seafood, particularly Maryland crabs and crab cakes
- 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 CenturyLink 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.
- The Factory of Sadness: FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns. Coined in a YouTube video by comedian Mike Polk Jr. after a 30-12 loss to the Houston Texans on Nov. 7, 2011. The nickname is additionally used as the name of a Browns fan site
- FedEx name based on FedExField where the Washington Redskins play
- 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, the old home of the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers. The stadium was also nicknamed "The Murph" after its original name of Jack Murphy Stadium.
- The Ralph: Shortened nickname of Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills (now called New Era Field, or the Cap). The stadium was aptly named after Bills founder Ralph Wilson.
- Razor: New England Patriots stadium Gillette Stadium.
- Rockpile: The seating section underneath the scoreboard at New Era Field. 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 New Era Field) 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 Vault: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Home of the Carolina Panthers.
- The Vet: Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Home of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1971-2002 and the Philadelphia Phillies from 1971-2003. Demolished in March 2004.
- The 12th Man/The 12's: 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. Since 1990, the Seahawks have had to pay licensing fees to Texas A&M University at College Station, because of the college filing a trademark on the phrase that year. Used to a lesser extent by the Buffalo Bills, also under license.
- 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.
- Big Easy Mafia: (Motivated Authentic Fans In Alliance) is a premier New Orleans Saints fan club that holds massive tailgate parties before every home game in front of the Superdome, and also meet up in numbers at a local venue for the away games. The popular costume wearing "Saints Superfans" are also a big part of this club, participating in charity events and fundraisers in and around New Orleans.
- 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. Since the 2010s the moniker Bills Mafia has increasingly been used instead.
- 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 known 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 Green Bay Packers 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.
- Chief Zee: Fan who attended nearly all Washington Redskins games from 1978 to 2016 and was considered the unofficial mascot of the team. He wore an Indian headdress, large rimmed glasses, with a red jacket and carried a tomahawk.
- Fireman Ed: Fan at NY Jets home games who wore a green fireman helmet with a Jets logo on the front. Known for leading the "J-E-T-S" chants. He retired the "Fireman Ed" character immediately after the infamous Butt Fumble game, although he still attends games.
- 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.
- Mob Squad: Fans Of The Los Angeles Rams.
- Never Miss a Super Bowl Club: An exclusive group, who have attended every Super Bowl game to date.
- 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.
- Ravens Flock: Fans of the Baltimore Ravens.
- 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: Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- SuperSkin: Die-hard Superfan of the Washington Redskins, who has attended each home game at FedEx Field since 1999 dressed in a burgundy and gold superhero costume while motivating 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 figuresEdit
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 struck the goal posts was 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. (The rule is now mostly obsolete, as the goal posts are now on the end lines and thus out of the field of play.)
- 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.
- Brian Bosworth rule: Linebackers are allowed to wear jersey numbers between 40 and 49. Named for Bosworth, who unsuccessfully sued the NFL, and had himself listed as a safety, to be allowed to wear the number 44 as a linebacker, the rule was passed long after Bosworth's retirement.
- 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 end zone, and placed it on the ground before standing up. 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, as well as similar injuries to the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger and the Bucs' Brian Griese.
- Colin Kaepernick rule: Team members, if they choose to be on the playing surface during the performance of the U.S. national anthem, must stand for its duration. Named for Kaepernick, whose protests against the anthem were blamed as part of the reason for a decline in attendance and television viewership in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
- 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 the 2012 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.
- Jimmy Graham rule: Effective the 2014 NFL season, the action of "dunking" the football through the goal post/crossbar as a prop in touchdown celebrations is now considered an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (15 yards). This rule was in response to Graham's tendency to dunk the football after scores while playing for the New Orleans Saints. One of his dunks during the Saints' 2013 Week 12 Thursday Night Football game against the Atlanta Falcons bent the goal posts so much that the game was delayed several minutes in order for the stadium crew to make adjustments. Additionally, the league extended the height of the goal posts from 30 to 35 feet, adding extra weight and therefore increasing the chances that it could collapse.
- Justin Tucker rule: First named during the controversial Sunday Night Football game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots in Week 3 of the 2012 season (one of the most memorable games that took place during the 2012 NFL referee lockout), commonly referred to simply as the "Tucker Rule," and named after Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker, this rule states that if the ball is kicked directly over one of the posts during a field goal attempt, then the field goal is deemed good. This is, indeed, what happened during the game, as Tucker made a successful kick like this on the final play of the game.
- 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 contact downfield, 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.
- Odell Beckham Jr. rule: Any player who accumulates two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game is automatically ejected. The original draft of the proposed rule would have counted any two personal fouls toward ejection and drew its name from Beckham, who committed three personal fouls during a game in the 2015 season. The rule, as enacted for 2016, would not have applied to Beckham.
- 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 hit the left upright, then hit the rear curved post (stanchion), then carried again over the crossbar, and landed in 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.
- (Paul) Salata rule: A team is not allowed to pass on a draft pick at the end of the draft in an effort to secure the last pick. Named after Paul Salata, who many years after his playing career established the Mr. Irrelevant ceremony; it became so popular that in the 1979 NFL Draft, the two teams with the last selections repeatedly passed to each other hoping the other would pick and they would get the Mr. Irrelevant publicity, necessitating the rule change.
- 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 Prater 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.
- Boise Rule: A rule instituted by the NFL in 2011 banning non-green playing surfaces. "Boise" refers to Albertsons Stadium (then known as 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, longtime 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.
- Manning Bowl: Rare games when quarterback brothers Peyton (formerly of the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos) and Eli Manning (New York Giants) met as opponents.
- Mile High Salute: A touchdown celebration used by Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis during his playing career, in which he would salute his fellow teammates (and sometimes the fans). A simplified variant (including only the salute portion) has been used by Broncos players ever since.
- No Fun League: Used by various reports criticizing the league for its sanctions imposed on teams. Popularized by the XFL.
- Red Gun The offense of Jerry Glanville when he was with the Atlanta Falcons
- 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 "unsportsmanlike taunting" in March 1984 and began fining players for it.
- Tebowing: A pose imitating Tim Tebow's stance when praying.
- 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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