Most sports teams are nicknamed after generic things like animals, groups or locations. The Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Celtics and Washington Capitals are just a few examples. But there are actually three National Football League teams that are named after specific, real-life people. To celebrate the official start of the NFL this weekend, here are three people whose legacies live on in major league sports.
1. Baltimore Ravens
Don't let the generic name fool you. Baltimore's 1996 expansion team wasn't named after any old raven. The club's nickname is an allusion to the menacing bird from Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. Although born in Boston, Poe later moved to Baltimore, where he died in 1849. But the iconic American poet lives on in his writing as well as in the NFL.
Maybe one day the team will use a logo designed after The Simpsons parody of the poem.
2. Buffalo Bills
No, Buffalo's NFL team isn't named after paper money or invoices mailed out by utility companies. The nickname is a tribute to Bill Cody, the 19th century entertainer who cemented America's vision of the western frontier through his traveling show called Buffalo Bill's Wild West. Previous team owner James Breuil chose Bills over other fan suggestions when renaming the club in 1947. Before then, they were known as the Buffalo Bison.
Unfortunately, NFL rules prohibit the Bills from using ropes to tackle opponents like their namesake wrangled cattle.
3. Cleveland Browns
There are a couple competing theories about the origins of the Browns' nickname. One is that Cleveland's NFL team is named after boxing legend Joe Louis - a.k.a. The Brown Bomber. Louis doesn't have any real connection to Cleveland, but he was such a widely revered fighter that it's possible the new team was drawn to the champion when looking for a name in 1946.
And it's easy to see why sportsmen would like Louis' spirit.
If you want to find out more about the origins of NFL team names, check out this article from Mental Floss.