Eagles and Rams and Bears ... Oh, My!

By Rob Kyff

October 3, 2018 4 min read

NFL owners aren't generally known for supporting liberal legislation, but the investors who founded a new football franchise in Philadelphia in 1933 were apparently caught up in the heady spirit of the New Deal. So they dubbed their team "The Eagles" to honor the Blue Eagle, the emblem of the National Recovery Administration. Today, this would be like NFL owners christening a new team the "Obamacares."

"Eagles" is just one of many NFL team names with curious origins. Can you select the true derivation of each team moniker?:

1. Tennessee Titans

A: The Titans were figures in early Greek mythology, and Nashville is known as "The Athens of the South."

B: It's a pun on "tight ends."

C: The financial backers of the team were known as "The Titans."

2. Chicago Bears

A: Chicago's professional baseball team was the Cubs.

B: Chicago had once been a major fur-trading center.

C: They're named for long-time owner George Halas, aka "Papa Bear."

3. Los Angeles Chargers (nee San Diego Chargers)

A: Team owner Barron Hilton wanted to promote the new credit (charge) card he had just introduced.

B: Hilton liked the martial imagery of horses, buglers and fans yelling "Charge!"

C: The team was the first to play night games under electric lights.

4. Los Angeles Rams

A: They're named for the wild sheep that once roamed the Hollywood Hills.

B: Their powerful offensive line was known as "The Battering Ram."

C: The favorite college team of general manager Damon "Buzz" Wetzel was the Fordham Rams.

5. New York Jets

A: "Jets" rhymed with "Mets," the name of one of New York's baseball teams.

B: "Jets" associated the team with the modern jet-age.

C: The team played in Shea Stadium, which was near LaGuardia Airport.


1. A; Nashville even boasts a full-scale replica of the Parthenon.

2. A; The team played in Wrigley Field, the home of the Cubs, so Halas decided to continue the ursine theme, reasoning that football players were bigger than baseball players. Halas was later dubbed "Papa Bear."

3. B; While it's true that Hilton had just introduced Carte Blanche, which earned its users points for redemption at Hilton hotels, the charge card explanation is almost certainly apocryphal.

4. C; Fordham, the alma mater of Vince Lombardi, was a college football powerhouse at the time.

5. A, B and C; Team owner Sonny Werblin had also considered "Gothams" ("Goths") and "Burros" (a pun on the city's "boroughs").

Rob Kyff, a teacher and writer in West Hartford, Connecticut, invites your language sightings. Send your reports of misuse and abuse, as well as examples of good writing, via email to [email protected] or by regular mail to Rob Kyff, Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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