Every sports team has some sort of mascot.Most are animals, chosen based on inherent ferocity of the beast or simply alliteration (my beloved Jacksonville Jaguars are the perfect example of this). Other team names are less simplistic, and are chosen usually because of some kind of unique facet of the team’s home city.
This article will explain the history behind some of the NFL’s most iconic and least understood team names.
The Steelers were founded in the 1930’s and originally took the name of the baseball team in Pittsburgh, the Pirates. After several years of losing records, Pittsburgh team owners decided to change the name, and a citywide vote chose the name “Steelers” after the city’s famed steel industry.
Named after founder and coach Paul Brown. Brown is considered one of the most important coaches ever in the NFL, and he is credited with establishing the “modern offense” era of football. Brown is also credited with co-founding the Cincinnati Bengals.
New England Patriots
Originally the Boston Patriots, the team name was chosen in a newspaper poll in the Boston Globe. The name and original mascot were chosen based on the city of Boston’s role in the American Revolution, and the team kept the mascot even after moving to its new home in Foxborough.
New York Giants
The oldest team in the NFL, the New York Giants also shared their name with the cities baseball team, the Giants. In order to distinguish themselves, the team was officially named the “New York Football Giants”, which remains as the official name of the team to this day. The baseball team moved to San Francisco in the 1950’s, so the New York Football Giants have a monopoly on the name.
New York Jets
New York’s second team was initially named the “Titans of New York”, but new owners changed the team name after years of ineffective play. Quarterback Joe Namath helped bring the Jets some glory by winning Super Bowl III.
The Oakland Raiders were started after the NFL added the Minnesota Vikings in 1959, leaving the AFL scrambling to find a replacement team. Oakland was chosen as the city, and the Raiders were chosen as the team name after the name chosen in an Oakland Tribune poll, the Oakland Señors, was rejected by ownership.
Check out the upcoming sequel, Team Name Origins – NFL 2
By: Joe Boehner