Names and How They got That Way
The words and phrases are spoken and written day after day, year after
year - generally without any wonderment as to how they became part of
the language. All have a history, a story.
For those of you who liked "Baseball Names and How They Got That Way" -
here for your reading pleasure is some timely gridiron grist As always,
reactions and suggestions most welcome
NEW ENGLAND A group of New England sportswriters picked Patriots as a
tribute to Patriot Day, which celebrates Paul Revere's ride. The team
originally located in Boston, was named the Patriots because of the
area's heritage as the birthplace of the American Revolution.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES Bert Bell established his NFL franchise in
Philadelphia in 1933 at a time the United States was suffering through
the Great Depression. New president Franklin D. Roosevelt had introduced
his "New Deal" program through the National Recovery Administration,
which had the Blue Eagle as its symbol. Since Bell hoped his franchise
also was headed for a new deal, he picked Eagles as the team name.
"STEEL CURTAIN" The term "Steel Curtain" was used to describe the
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive unit for almost a decade, starting in the
mid 1970s. Four players from those teams are in the Pro Football Hall of
Fame: "Mean" Joe Greene, Jack Ham , Jack Lambert and Mel Blount.
Others linked in the public eye associated with the "Steel
Curtain"include: L.C. Greenwood , Dwight White , and Ernie Holmes .
"ROCKY" Footbal star Robert Patrick Bleier was always better known as
Rocky. The son of an Appleton, Wisconsin bar owner, Bleier explained how
he got his nickname: "Our living quarters were in the back section of
the ground floor, just off the dining room ... In my first few weeks,
Dad would bring some of his customers back to the bedroom to take a peek
at his son ...
"' ... Son of a bitch looks like a little rock,' my dad would whisper
proudly. "So I was Rocky before I ever departed the crib."
Bleier was the 417th player drafted in the 1968 draft out of Notre Dame
and went on to become Pittsburgh's inspirational leader and their
"TAXI SQUAD" Art McBride, original owner of the Cleveland Browns,
owned several Cleveland-area taxicab companies in the 1940s, a time NFL
rosters were set at 33 players. Players cut by the Browns drove McBride
taxis allowing him to replace injured players immediately with
well-skilled taxi drivers. The term has become interchangeable for
players on a reserve list.
TERRIBLE TOWELS Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers wave the golden "schmatas"
celebrating their team and taunting opponents.
SUPER BOWL The merger of the American Football League and the National
Football League led to the need for a championship game. The first
contest was played on January 15, 1967, and although officially it was
known as the National Football League championship game, its unofficial
name, the Super Bowl, was used in the media, by the fans, and by the
players-and the name has stuck.
One theory for how the high-sounding name came about is that at an
owner's meeting centering on a discussion of what to call the game, one
of the moguls had in his pocket a super ball that he had taken away from
his youngster earlier that day. The owner was not too taken with the
long and ordinary-sounding suggestion for what would become pro
football's ultimate game. Squeezing the ball, he suggested the name
Super Bowl, but the name was not received with much enthusiasm.
Nevertheless, he mentioned the name to a reporter and as they say in
sporting circles, "The rest is history."
The first Super Bowl saw the first dual-network color-coverage simulcast
of a sports event in history, and attracted the largest viewership ever
to witness a sporting event up to that time. The Nielsen rating
indicated that 73 million fans watched all or part of that game on one
of the two networks, CBS or NBC. In actuality, the game was a contest
between the two leagues and the two networks, for the CBS allegiance was
to the NFL, and the NBC allegiance was to the American Football League,
which it had virtually created with its network dollars.
The Super Bowl from the start has been designated with a Roman numeral
rather than by year-a move on the part of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle
to give the contest a sense of class, and at the same time, of
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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