What's in a Name: NFC Playoffs Edition
Continuing our look into the stories behind the names of the NFL playoff teams, we now move on to the NFC.
The New York Giants
Technically the New York Football Giants, this team is one of the oldest in the league. They joined the league in 1925 and have been forever in the ownership of the Mara family. Before 1956 the team played in New York’s famed Polo Grounds which at the time housed the New York Giants of baseball, before they moved to San Francisco. I haven’t been able to find it absolutely confirmed anywhere, but in the era (see Pittsburgh Steelers) football teams who were tenets of baseball teams often took the same name as their hosts.
One Sunday in December by Lou Sahadi gives a nice breif history of the club.
The Carolina Panthers
The Panthers joined the league in the 1993 expansion, with their first season coming in 1995. There isn’t too much of a great long story behind the name. Word is that it was the selection of Mark Richardson, son of the team owner Jerry. But not to dispare, some coolness occurs with the logo, which is shaped to resemble the Carolina states. The team plays out of Charlotte, but represents both North and South Carolina. Extra bit of trivia: The team joined the NFL in the same expansion as the Jacksonville Jaguars, which gave the odd bit of synergy of having two feline named teams join in the same year. Out of cat-themed teams, only the Bengals and Panthers have made Super Bowl appearences. Sorry Jags and Lions.
Get your Panther info here
The Minnesota Vikings
The creation of the Vikings took place under a good little bit of controversy. Joining the NFL in 1961, the Minnesota ownership pulled out of their deal with the upstart AFL. It is speculated that the NFL was trying to usurp the AFL in their attempt to compete. It didn’t end up working, however, as the AFL was able to find the Boston Patriots franchise at the last minute. The name was pitched to the board by GM and former PR man Bert Rose and chosen due to its representation of the Scandinavian heritage prevalent in area and its aggrevise undertones.
Official Vikings timeline
The Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have a long and winding history. They have the strange distinction of being the oldest franchise, but not in the same city. They began as an amateur club in the late 19th century in Chicago. As was fairly common for sports teams in those days, the team name derived from a nickname rather than some kind of official institution. In this case, the team had hand me down uniforms from the University of Chicago. The maroon sweaters had faded, and the character of the red had changed, thus cardinals. In more maroon related trivia, this team won the 1925 championship by default in the infamous Pottsville Maroons scandal. Anyway, from 1960 to 1987 the team was located in St. Louis, who then achieved Cardinal consistency with their baseball team. Then the team moved on to Arizona, but was known as the Phoenix Cardinals from 1988 to 1994, before changing the name to include the entire state.
Further reading? Go here
The Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were created in the 1965 NFL expansion, to begin play in 1966. The name came from a fan contest, as was the standard thing to do by this time. The story goes that, though multiple folks submitted Falcons, high school teacher Julia Elliott convinced ownership of the name by writing an essay pointing out the proud sporting tradition of the falcon, along with its ruthlessness. Pretty good reason if you ask me. It just adds to the list of great things teachers have given us.
Info gleaned here
The Philadelphia Eagles
Here is another old guard team. Philly’s original NFL team went bust halfway through the 1931 season, but they were able to pull a new one together in time for the 1933 season. There are a few reasons behind the name. The first is that it distanced them from the failed franchise. The other is that the ownership pulled some patriotic inspiration for the name, as the New Deal was going on at the time and the seal for the National Recovery Act featured an Eagle. And so the rest, as they say, is history. You really can’t go wrong with an Eagle as a mascot.
Everything Eagles, over here
So that does it for this year’s playoffs. May the best team win.