What’s in a name?

My cousin Joe has always had a fascination with unique football player names. One year, when he was amused by the name R.W. McQuarters (who then played for the 49ers), his mom spent hours on the phone trying to procure a jersey for him and somehow inadvertently got connected to the 49ers coaches room.

She ended up talking to a bewildered Steve Mariucci (the head coach), who kept asking her, “HOW did you get this number?” while she politely asked if he was the person who could sell her a jersey over the phone because she had her credit card ready and everything.

The next year, during the Thanksgiving game between the Bears and Lions, Joe decided we should pick a name and all take a drink any time the announcers said it.

He picked the name Urlacher. As in Brian Urlacher – the heart and soul of the Bears. In fact, even though Urlacher was a rookie at the time, the announcers couldn’t help but gush about him, mentioning his name exactly 32987238957783 times. And this was just during the pre-game. Luckily, none of us were drinking alcohol or I’d be writing this from the grave.

The NFL is rife with unique names. Like Rex Hadnot of the Dolphins: “I thought you had it, Rex!” “HadNOT!”

Or Trent Dilfer of the 49ers, whose name is now an insulting putdown: “Seriously man, don’t be such a Dilfer.”

Or Mark Colombo of the Cowboys: “How would I know where the quarterback is? I’m not Colombo. Oh wait…”

Or Todd Weiner of the Falcons. (This is only funny to me, probably. Because I grew up in a small town whose 17 of its 20 4-H members had last names that were either Weiner, Burger or Bacon.)

But then a few weeks ago, I saw The Name. The name to top all names. The name that made me want to immediately go out and purchase the jersey, even though the player is a member of the St. Louis Rams, who I vehemently rooted against in Super Bowl XXXIV for the sole reason that I could not stand Kurt Warner’s wife.

The name is Incognito.

Richie Incognito.

How freaking cool is THAT?


Best name ever.

Letters – Vols. 5, 6, 7 and 8

Dear Brad Johnson,

I love you. You rock and I know this is mean-spirited, but I hope Daunte Culpepper doesn’t finish his knee rehab in time for 2006. I hope you understand that even though I think you’re awesome, I still cannot break my rule of putting Vikings players on my fantasy team. Due to past performances, I cannot afford to get burned. I know you understand.

– From The Girl Who Owns 3 of Your Football Jerseys and a Boatload of Your Football Cards, But is Totally Not Obsessed With You

Dear Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons,

A guy who runs for more yardage than passing for it is nothing more than a glorified running back, NOT a quarterback. When your first instinct is to immediately take off running, it means you haven’t matured enough to the point to find a secondary receiver when your first option is covered. When you pass for 300+ yards in two consecutive games, maybe then I will stop bitching about you and your lack of passing ability. Also, try getting your passer rating position above #30 before you start talking trash.

Someone Who is Sick of Hearing all of Your Unearned Hype, Dammit

Dear Mark Brunell of the Washington Redskins,

Oh, I’m sorry. I thought that after having your piss-poor 65-yard throwing performance last week, that maybe, if it wasn’t too much trouble, you might be able to do better for me this week. I didn’t realize that after weeks of being a great player, you’re now going to suck. My mistake.

The Person Who is Now in Second Place in her Fantasy Football League and Not Happy About it

Dear Mike Tice,

I have two words for you: flea flicker. This play is the best play in the world, and yet you steadfastly refuse to implement it. Come ON – it’s even fun to say! FLEA FLICKER. If you do not do this on Sunday, I will be forced to write you a scathing letter. With bad words. C’mon, it’s easy: Johnson to Bennett back to Johnson to Williamson. I’m telling you – it’s GOLD!

– Armchair Coach Wannabe

Suicide by play-by-play

My hatred for baseball announcer Joe Buck knows no bounds. I had to physically leave the room last night during the All-Star game because my brain could not stand his incessant prattling. The man would not shut up for even a few seconds, especially when he was mouth-frothingly spewing his inane diatribe about Kenny Rogers’ off-field behavior (that would be Kenny Rogers the pitcher, not the fried chicken entrepreneur).

Hey Joe, I’ve got an idea: why don’t you announce some of the play-by-play action once in awhile? With some spaces of dead air known as “silence” in between? Hmmm? How would that be?

P.S. Hey Monday Night Football: if you want to kill me, assign Joe Buck to do the broadcasts with John Madden. Seriously, that would be great. Then I would no longer fear death, but instead, would WILLINGLY SEEK IT OUT.