Dear Crabby, How do the NFL Teams get their Names?

Dear Crabby,

The Detroit Lions have never really been King of the Jungle; And it got me wondering, just how do the NFL teams get their names?

Sincerely, Nick Namers


Dear Mr. Namers,

Ah, nicknames for the football teams. Well, I”m so old I actually remember how most of the football teams of the NFL (National Football League) got their names. Since many of you will be watching the game on Thanksgiving, let”s start with the Detroit Lions.

So, the first part of the name of the team – Detroit – is for the city that best gives a location for the team. The second part of the name is the nickname. George Richards, owner of the team and WJR Radio, brought the team and moved the Portsmouth Spartans to Detroit in 1934. The Detroit Tigers baseball team was doing well, so Richards named the Lions to continue the big cat theme. He also said he wished the team to become the monarch of the league, just like lions are in the jungle – we”re all still wishing on that one.

Dear Crabby with a Laptop ComputerNow, with the Oakland Raiders, a contest decided the name – sort of. In 1960, a contest was held to pick a name for the team. Señors was the winner until a sportswriter claimed the contest was rigged, so a runner-up in the contest had their pick, Raiders, become the official nickname.

Of course, The Washington Redskins is a name in the news lately. Team owner, George Preston Marshall, axed the name Boston Braves, and renamed the team to the Redskins. It is said that Marshall wanted to honor head coach, William Henry Dietz, who was thought to be Native American. The team moved to Washington in 1937 and the Redskins name remained in place.

The Baltimore Ravens” name came from a poll by the Baltimore Sun. Fans decided to honor the American Poet, Edgar Allan Poe, by using the name after Poe”s poem The Raven, which he wrote while living in the city.

The oldest team name still being used is the Green Bay Packers. As the story goes, the Indian Packing Company sponsor the team for $500 with the condition of naming the team after the company. Voilà, the name is born and still lives on today. However, the Indiana Packing Company was absorbed by the Acme Packing Company just two years later.

There are of course, many more teams with stories behind their name. Many were contests that picked the final name. Most pay homage to the area in some regards, such as the Chiefs, the Colts, the Cowboys, the 49ers, or the Patriots.

Some of the names come with controversy today, I”m not much on political correctness, but one thing is for certain. Detroit football fans are still waiting for their team to live up to it”s name and be the King of the Jungle!


Sincerely, Dear Crabby


Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Go to and ask your question.

You may also ask your question on my Facebook Page and don’t forget to tell me how wonderful I am.

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

Speak Your Mind