10 Coolest Player Names in NFL History

Parents of NFL players have a long history of unique and awesome names. In some cases, rather than pass on traditional names or pull something that means leader in some dead language from a baby name site, these folks got creative. Like the parents of Hughtavious and Barkevious Mingo, whose parents names were, wait for it… Hugh and Barbara. Sometimes, that creativity sets in motion the swagger and confidence of an NFL path.

Takeo Spikes

Linebacker, 1998–2012, Bengals-Bills-Eagles-49ers-Chargers

Having the last name Spikes is a good start for a football player. Especially a linebacker with his neck. Seriously, Google his name and before you finish typing Spikes, it’ll likely autofill “neck.”

But even the awesomeness of Spikes doesn’t work with a boring first name. For example, his younger cousin is Brandon Spikes. See what I mean? Just doesn’t hit the same. Takeo Spikes is a perfect football name from start to finish. Bonus: His nickname was TKO. Perfection. *chef’s kiss*

linebacker takeo spikes in chargers uniform, 2012
Jeffrey BeallCC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

Takeo was named after Takeo Miki, who was the Prime Minister of Japan when Spikes was born. Not that Minister Miki or Japan were important to the reasoning. His parents saw the name scroll across a news report and decided they liked it. Which is 100% the best way to name anything.

I’m of the firm belief that a name can instill an attitude. Takeo Spikes brought that attitude to a lot of bad teams and lit a fire where it was desperately needed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ever enough. Jerome Bettis, who faced Spikes often, said he was every bit as good as Ray Lewis, but without the supporting cast.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson

Offensive Tackle, 2006–2015, Jets

Ferguson played his entire 10-year career with the Jets, and they got every penny of value from him. It’s always nice when a 4th overall pick can be a set-and-forget tackle for a decade. In those 10 years, Ferguson started 160 games. If you’re doing the math at home, that means he started every game, every year. Not only did he start those games, he played every snap. Well, almost every snap. At the end of a game in 2008, the Jets set up a desperation lateral play and wanted a hands team of sorts on the field. So they pulled out Ferguson. If you’re looking for a great football trivia question, on that unsuccessful play, his replacement at left tackle was Darrelle Revis.

If you’re like me and you were watching the 2006 NFL Draft unfold, the name “D’Brickashaw” probably piqued your interest. In 1983, ABC aired a miniseries called The Thorn Birds, based on a book of the same name. Ferguson’s parents, Edwin and Rhunette, were engrossed in the show. Later that year when their second son was born (his older brother is Edwin, Jr. *yawn*), Edwin proposed a variation on the name of the main character of the series, Ralph de Bricassart. His mother, Rhunette, wanted to name him Montgomery. The final vote was given to Rhunette’s mother, who sided with Edwin, and the boy was named D’Brickashaw Montgomery Ferguson.

Names can instill an attitude. Montgomery Ferguson wouldn’t have been a football player. But a kid who grows up with the nickname “Brick” is definitely playing 10,707 out of 10,708 snaps of football.

Plaxico Burress

Wide Receiver, 2000–2012, Steelers-Giants-Jets-Steelers

The origin of Plaxico is up for some debate. He got the name from his uncle, but doesn’t appear to be any information of why his uncle had the name. Most sources say the name is a derivation of the Latin word for “peaceful,” similar to opera singer Plácido Domingo. Though one source says it’s derived from the word plexiglass, which seems a bit suspect.

More important is that he’s now a verb as well, and not for an awesome reason, like catching the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. It’s used as a way to describe harming yourself through your own stupidity, an honor he earned after he cheddar bob’d himself in a nightclub. Or maybe Cheddar Bob plaxico’d himself.

Despite his unique, one-of-a-kind name, in an effort to conceal his identity after shooting himself in his own leg, Burress gave the hospital the name “Harris Smith.” That little stunt, known as the “Plaxident,” earned him a 2 year prison sentence at the end of his prime years.

Orleans Darkwa

Running Back, 2014–2017, Giants

Is he a superhero? An antihero? That’s definitely the name of an antihero. It always makes me think of Darkwing Duck or a Star Wars villain. Darth Darkwa? Yes, please.

Turns out Orleans is actually common enough in Ghana, from which his heritage descends, that he’s technically a junior and shares his father’s name. So sometimes cool names are family names. From cool families. In French, Orleans translates to Golden. The surname Darkwa is almost exclusive to Ghana and might be my favorite last name on this list.

I’m just glad he was talented enough to bring his name to the NFL and share it with us. And he was definitely talented. Despite being an undrafted free agent, he eventually made his way to the Giants as a special teams player in 2014. In 2017, he got his chance to shine, and in just 11 starts, he rushed for 751 yards and 5 TDs with 4.4 ypc. When the Giants picked Saquon Barkley in the 1st round of the 2018 draft, Darkwa went looking for his new team. Unfortunately, that process lead to him rupturing his Achilles during a workout for the Jaguars, and he never made it back to the NFL.

Na’il Diggs

Linebacker, 2000–2011, Packers-Panthers-Rams-Chargers

I mean, Diggs is just such a great last name. Which is why it’s weird that it means someone who resembles a duck. Whatever, ducks are cool. Especially Darkwing Duck, which I’ve now named-dropped twice in this article. Na’il is a Muslim name that means earner or acquirer.

A 4th round pick by the Packers out of Ohio State, Diggs started his 12-year career with a selection to the 2000 All-Rookie Team. He went on to embody his earner title, making almost $20 million over his career. That is one rich duck.

Quentin Jammer

Cornerback, 2002–2013, Chargers-Broncos

These names are so odd to me because it’s easy to pick a cool first name, but how do you just get born with the last name Jammer? And how is everyone with that last name not a professional athlete? The only thing cooler would be if he was a basketball player. But NFL cornerback works. That said, the name Jammer is a fairly simple topographical identifier for someone who lives in a hollow. So, not quite as cool as being a duck.

Quentin is derived from the Latin name Quintinus, which is a form of Quintus, meaning “fifth.” Coming out of Texas, Jammer was selected by the San Diego Chargers with… the fifth pick. Before his final season, which got him to the Super Bowl with the Broncos before retiring, he played 11 years with the Chargers. He only missed 4 games during that time, a rare feat for a defensive back.

Just to round out these past couple entries, Jammer is the older half-brother of Quandre Diggs, a DB for the Seahawks who was also considered for this list. Neither Jammer nor Quandre is related to Na’il.

Equanimeous St. Brown and Amon-Ra St. Brown

Wide Receivers, Brothers… no wait, it gets even cooler.

Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown, 2018–Present, Packers-Bears
Amon-Ra Julian Heru J. St. Brown, 2021–Present, Lions
Osiris Adrian Amen-Ra J. St. Brown, middle brother, didn’t play past college

These two can’t be separate entries. It’s just too cool, and the story is fun, and the formula is amazing.

Their father, John Brown (*yawn*) is a back-to-back Mr. Universe who had his sons in the weight room at a young age. They started in Kindergarten lifting PVC pipe to learn proper form. Due to his own rather boring name, John and his wife Miriam decided they wanted to give their sons something unique. So they created this formula, which is followed for all 3 sons, save for the first name of the oldest, Equanimeous.

The St. Brown Formula:

  • First Egyptian Name
  • Traditional Name Ending with -an, Chosen by Mother
  • Second Egyptian Name
  • Father’s First Initial
  • St.* Boring Last Name
    • *John thought the name Brown would look boring on a football jersey, so he added a “flourish” with the St.

St. Brown Name Generator

Because this formula is so awesome, I did a thing. And then two awesome developers I work with gave it some serious production value. Follow the Shiny Red Button for your very own St. Brown name!

Equanimeous, the oldest and only son without an Egyptian first name, isn’t really a first name. It’s an adjective that comes from the word equanimity, meaning even-tempered or composed. While in college, John came across the name as a character in a novel written by his friend. When he inquired, his friend offered the definition as the reason for the character’s name, and John loved it so much he vowed it would be the name of his first son.

In 2018, Equanimeous was drafted in the 6th round out of Notre Dame by the Packers. He spent time between the Packers practice squad and roster from 2018 through 2021, then played 2022 with the Bears.

The middle brother, Osiris, was a highly-recruited WR as well. Unfortunately, though the talent was there, his career at Stanford was plagued by injuries, and he was never able to make the jump to the NFL.

The youngest of the brothers, Amon-Ra, was drafted out of USC by the Lions in the 4th round of the 2021 Draft. He quickly caught on, with 90 catches in his rookie season and 106 catches in 2022. He’s widely considered among the top 5 or 10 receivers in the NFL.

With Amon-Ra 2 years in and Equanimeous playing both those years in the NFC North, the brothers have matched up several times. For those games, John and Miriam Brown have designed dual jerseys to show support for both of their sons.

Egyptian Deities used in the St. Brown names

  • Imhotep – From chancellor to the pharaoh and high priest to Ra, to demi-god, to god, Imhotep has grown more revered with each passing century. As his legend tied him to architecture, and he became recognized as a god of medicine and healing, he was eventually equated with Thoth, the Egyptian god of architecture and medicine.
  • Amon-Ra – Amon was the chief deity and Egyptian god of the air. Ra was the god of the sun. Over time, the two merged to become Amon-Ra, king of the gods in the Egyptian Empire. Other versions include various combinations of Amon, Amen, Amun, and either Ra or Re.
  • Osiris – Lord of the underworld and husband of Isis (goddess of lover and fertility), Osiris was the judge of the dead and one of the most important Egyptian deities.
  • Heru – More commonly known as Horus, he was sometimes called the son of Isis and Osiris. He was the Egyptian god of war and the husband, and sometimes son, of Hathor (goddess of beauty and dancing).

Natrone Means

Running Back, 1993–2000, Chargers-Jaguars-Chargers-Panthers

Pronounced “nay-tron,” not only is this one of the greatest NFL names, his nicknames were equally fantastic. Nickname wizard Chris Berman first called him Natrone Refried Means, which the young running back didn’t particlulary like. Berman later delivered Natrone Means Business, which was much better received.

There’s no real information about how he got the name Natrone, though it’s likely just another form of natron, which is a naturally-occurring mixture of minerals in lake bottoms. A large deposit of the mixture can be found at Lake Natron in Tanzania.

Means was a significant part of some very good Chargers teams in the 90s. In 1994, he ran for 1,350 yards and 12 TDs, earning him a Pro Bowl invite. The Chargers made it to the Super Bowl the following year, but like most other AFC teams in the 90s, they got blown out.

Renaldo Nehemiah

Wide Receiver, 1982–1984, 49ers

I don’t know if it deserves to be on this list, and I kinda don’t care. When I was a kid, it was the football name I practiced saying over and over, even just in my head, because it was so much fun. A close second is Vai Sikahema. Something about 4 syllable last names… they’re just so flowy.

Nehemiah is a Hebrew name that means God comforts, and Renaldo, with roots in several languages, means counselor to rulers. Not necessarily the leader, but the one leaders turn to for wisdom.

Renaldo Nehemiah had a unique career that didn’t even include college football. He was a track athlete and then some. Nehemiah was an Olympic hurdler who was the favorite for the 110 m hurdles at the 1980 Summer Olympics, but he didn’t compete due a US-led boycott of the Games in Moscow. However, in 1981 in Zurich, he ran a then-world record 110 m hurdles time of 12.93 seconds, the first time anyone had ever broken the 13 second barrier. That time is still tied for 21st in history.

Despite his physical gifts, Nehemiah didn’t have much of an NFL career. He played just 3 seasons, the last of which got him a Super Bowl ring with the ’84 49ers. He didn’t touch the ball in the Super Bowl, but frankly, anyone who made it on that stacked roster deserves respect.

Bonus Round!

All-Royalty Team

All-Military Rank Team

*Note: These players did not serve in the military
Here are some who did.

Alright people, let’s hear it, who did I miss? And we’re talking about cool names, awesome names, fun to say names. Yes, I know there’s a kicker named Chris Blewitt. And yes, I know there was a guy named Buzz Nutt. But I want to hear names that come with a strut.

5 thoughts on “10 Coolest Player Names in NFL History”

  1. I wasn’t familiar with many of these names but the ones I did recognize, YES. And here I thought baseball had cornered the market on cool names. Well, maybe nicknames . . but that’s another post for another time.

    Bast Caspian Ptah V. St. Robinson is what I came up with through that generator. Brilliant!

    Imma go by Bast Caspian Robinson, fully loaded . . if I ever have occasion to make a dinner reservation at a joint that’s giving me the “three weeks out” schpiel.

    1. Don’t forget the flourish! Bast Caspian St. Robinson will absolutely get red carpet treatment. My favorite that I’ve gotten so far is Akhenaten Fabian Amenhotep J. St. Taylor. I may have hit the button about a thousand times by now.

      I love doing posts like this cause I get to tell a little bit of the story of players with otherwise forgettable NFL careers. Like Renaldo Nehemiah barely played football, but his story is phenomenal.

      1. It reminds me of the Key and Peele skit. You ever see that one?

        He was fast! A track and field superstar that San Fran took a flyer on. He did win a ring with the team, beat my Dolphins.

          1. I actually haven’t watched it excepting for when someone sends me a skit here and there. A friend of mine sent me that skit after I talked about how I pick my fantasy football roster according to how the player’s name would fit in a Tarantino flick.

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