I'm taking a break from predictions today to bring you my 50 favorite names in the NFL. And this is the best time of the year to do this, because teams haven't had to trim their rosters yet. Man, there are some hilarious names I'd never heard before, and two of them cracked the top 5. I graded the contestants on four criteria: Scrabble Score (meaning they get more points for longer names and rarer letters); Rhythm, Words in or Similar to Name, and whether both names were good or just one. A few people got some additional bonus points. For example, Osi Umenyiora got points for having each vowel appear once in his last name.
Honorable mentions go to the following people, who didn't make the cut (this should tell you how awesome the top 50 will be): Laveranues Coles, Jamaal Fudge, Legedu Naanee, Alvin Nnabuife, Timi Wusu, Sabby Piscitelli, Darnell Dinkins, Otis Grigsby, Vinny Ciurciu, and Alvis Whitted.
So here they are, in descending order:
50Casey Printers49Vaka Manupuna48Tyjuan Hagler47Anquan Boldin46Obafemi Ayanbadejo45Logan Mankins44Ephraim Salaam43Osi Umenyiora42Scott Player41Brodrick Bunkley40Sage Rosenfels39Adimchinobe Echemandu38Mason Unck37Montavious Stanley36Akbar Gbaja-Biamila35Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila34Vonta Leach33LaDainian Tomlinson32Chukky Okobi31Ashton Youboty30Filip Filipovic29Yamon Figurs28Brady Poppinga27Visanthe Shiancoe26Rex Hadnot25Demetrin Veal24Elvis Dumervil23Orpheus Roye22Plaxico Burress21T.J. Houshmandzadeh20Cory Lekkerkerker19Peerless Price18Lousaka Polite17Junior Glymph16Ikechuku Ndukwe15Jermon Bushrod14Nnamdi Asomugha13Mansfield Wrotto12Jabar Gaffney11Nehemiah Broughton10LaBrandon Toefield9Babatunde Oshinowo8Ebenezer Ekuban7Madison Hedgecock6DeMarcus Faggins5Syndric Steptoe4Jamaica Rector3Craphonso Thorpe2Jerricho Cotchery1D'Brickashaw Ferguson
I didn't give consideration to anyone just because their name is foreign to the American tongue. The ethnic names that made the list all have something special about them - most of these have a great rhythm to them, as well as fun consonant combinations like "Gb," "Nn," "Nd," and so on.
I apologize for Jerricho Cotchery for not mentioning him in yesterday's column up there with Syndric Steptoe and D'Brickashaw Ferguson as competing for the greatest name in the league. No need to apologize to Craphonso (I know what I'm naming my first kid) and Jamaica Rector, since I hadn't heard of them before. I hope they make their respective teams.
He only made #20 due to a bland first name, but when I came across Cory Lekkerkerker's last name, I nearly lost it. He has a twelve-letter last name, using only four unique letters (and one of them only gets used once!)
It's possible some people dropped in the list simply because I'm so familiar with their names. I tried to be fair to them, but LaDainian Tomlinson just doesn't sound strange anymore. LaBrandon Toefield, however... I get a mental picture of a vast field of big toes sticking up, complete with electrical wires passing overhead, every time I hear his name. That alone gets him into the top ten.
Hedgecock might be one of the greatest last names in the world.