published Friday, June 10th, 2011

5 at 10: Special Friday mailbag edition

Sure, we could spend the morning talking about how the Miami Heat are melting down before our very eyes. Yes, we could discuss that Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens deserves to be the front-runner in almost every Cy Young conversation as of this morning. You bet we could kick around Joan Cronan being named interim UT athletic director or even the Vols trip to Indy to see the NCAA’s version of Judge Wapner.

But today is Friday, and on Friday’s we do the mailbag. This one — in honor of a singular great question, in honor of Riverbend’s 30 birthday (“It’s a festival. IT’S 30!”) and in honor of the 5-at-10’s looming trip to the Redneck Riveria — is different.

You folks know every week we give one answer to five questions. It’s a system that’s worked for us. Today, we’re taking one question that asked for five answers and breaking it into five parts with at least five answers.

From the “7-Up Stinks Studios,” here we go...

From EC

It’s the time of year when things are slow in sports… I’m talking Turtles marching through peanut butter slow…but my question is inspired by the retirement of Shaquille O’Neal and all of his nicknames..what or who do you think is the top 5 Best Sports Nicknames of all time???

Keep up the Fantast-o-listic good work!

OK, that seems like a great question, right? Now think about it for a minute. Now another minute. It’s an outstanding question that is genius in its geniusness. (Sidenote: Shaq had some great nicknames — our favorite was the Big Aristotle — but most of them were self-given, and that just won’t do. Alas.)

And we all know there’s one question a week, that the 5-at-10 spends entirely too much time on, well, this is the all-time cake-taker in that category. (In fact, there are co-workers and members of the 5-at-10 clan — Hi, honey — that are ready for this question to be put to bed.)

Anyhoo, we decided to sub-divide our answer and came up with some stipulations. Star power counts. So does cool points. And nickname origin. And in truth, most all of these are quick (almost all are shorter than three words). Enough dilly-dallying, and gang, as always feel free to respond, because no matter how much we put into this list we’re certain of three things: first, you’re going to agree with most of these; second, we know we’ve forgotten at least one great one that’s going to make us slap our head and say, “Of course. We’re stupid;” third, one of your personal favorites will be left off, and that’s OK, but please share it.

Anyhoo, enough delay.

All-time team nicknames (given to a group of teammates or a club)

1) The Four Horseman — No not the wrestlers, but the Notre Dame offensive skill players in 1924. Legendary sports writer Grantland Rice described them this way: “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence, and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.”

2) The Steel Curtain — Pittsburgh’s awesome defense of the 1970s

3) The Broad Street Bullies — The Philadelphia Flyers teams that would rather fight than look at you

4) Phi Slamma Jamma — The dunking fraternity that included Hakeem Olajuwan, Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, et al.

5) The Purple People Eaters — The Minnesota Vikings defense

Near misses: The Big Red Machine (Those great Cincinnati Reds teams of the 1970s) Greatest Show on Turf (St. Louis Rams of the late 1990s-early 2000s), Monsters of the Midway (Bears defense) and the Bronx Bombers (New York Yankees).

Best College nicknames

  • photo
    'Pistol' Pete, Pete Maravich, basketball player for LSU, in posed action in New Orleans LA., Nov. 1969. (AP Photo)

1) Pistol — Pete Maravich’s handle was accurate and awesome — and let’s remember dude average more than 50 points per game one year at LSU.

2) The Wizard of Westwood — UCLA coach John Wooden

3) The Fridge — William Perry, the former Clemson and Chicago Bears defensive tackle

4) The Rocket — While there are other “Rockets” and that counts against you in most cases, former Notre Dame speedster Raghib Ismail gets bonus points because his nickname was so good, that they nicknamed his brother Qadry “The Missile,” and then in turn they nicknamed their mother “The Launching Pad.” Well played.

5) Cadillac — Granted, this is a personal pick here, but Carnell Williams’ tag at Auburn was classic and simple, and in the end that really helps make a great nickname.

Near misses: The Round Mound of Rebound (AKA Charles Barkley), The Kansas Comet (Gayle Sayers), Sam “Bam” Cunningham; Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds, who got that name by cutting a car in half during his college career.

Best pro nicknames

  • photo
    Karl Malone (32) of the Utah Jazz looks to pass to a teammate after drawing two Seattle SuperSonics including Gary Payton, left, during their NBA playoff contest in Seattle on Sunday, May 2, 1993. (AP Photo/Gary Stewart)

1) The Mailman — Karl Malone’s nickname because “He always delivered.”

2) Broadway Joe — Joe Namath lived and breathed his nickname, even when he was in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

3) Chocolate Thunder — Darryl Dawkins — who some may say was Shaq 1.0 — earned this label by breaking backboards and dunking on everyone. Yes, Dawkins may not be the superstar that most of the others on this list are, but a great nickname is still a great nickname.

4) The Bus — Jerome Bettis, the over-sized former NFL All-Pro running back. This nickname was so good, that Bettis’ lead blocker, fullback Tim Lester, was known as the Bus Driver.

5) Mr. October — Reggie Jackson earned this title by being great in the postseason. Great nickname — that’s launched a few great insults, too. (Isn’t A-Rod Mr. July?).

Near misses: The Juice would have probably made it had he not, uh, run afoul of the law. The Great One — Wayne Gretzky’s nickname was great (obviously), but it was too close to Ali’s and just like Jackie Gleason’s. Hammerin’ Hank Aaron was close; so was the Splendid Splinter and the Wizard of Oz. And Ickey Woods and Deacon Jones. And Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Mean Joe Greene. And about a dozen of those old New York Yankees — The Iron Horse, Yogi, The Mick, Whitey, The Yankee Clipper. Let’s just move along before we pull our hair out.

  • photo
    Wrestler Ric ``Nature Boy'' Flair, in this June 1999 photo, says he wants to follow the lead of fellow wrestler Jesse ``The Body'' Ventura, now Minnesota's governor, and run for governor of North Carolina. (AP Photo/The Charlotte Observer, Jeff Siner)

Best fighters (real and not-so-real)

1) The Nature Boy Ric Flair

2) The Italian Stallion Rocky Balboa

3) “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali

4) Iron Mike Tyson

5) Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini

Near misses: This was a tough category. We loved the nickname Sugar but it was taken by two great champions, thusly devaluing the nickname. Same with The Hitman — Tommy Hearns and Bret Hart. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was close; as was James “Bonecrusher" Smith. Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran was close in English and even closer in Spanish — “Manos de la Piedra.”

The All-time top 10

  • photo
    Florida State's Deion Sanders listens on the phone as he waits for the announcement April 23, 1989 of his selection in the upcoming NFL draft at the Winnetka, Illinois home of his agent. Sanders was selected by the Atlanta Falcons. (AP Photo)

10) Shoeless Joe Jackson — Sometimes, the starting point of the nickname is enough. Jackson was trying to break in a new pair of cleats in the minors and the shoes gave him blisters. He finished the game barefooted and the heckling fans who called him “A shoeless son of a gun,” launched a great nickname. And a true original.

9) Dr. J — He was called The Doctor by a high school friend and here’s how Julius Erving described the transformation of his nickname with an interview with the website, "Mine eventually got changed to Dr. J, instead of just the Doctor, once I started playing professional basketball. The team physician was called Doc, and the trainer was called Chop.  But the physician became Dr. M, and I become Dr. J, compliments of a guy I was rooming with in my first year, a guy named Willie Soldier. Dr. J was kind of catchy, and I liked that.  I said, if I'm going to go through a name change, that's not a bad move.  It just sort of stuck since then, and it's still here."

8) Prime Time — Deion Sanders could have two on the list (but we frowned upon rhyming nicknames with real names such as Jake the Snake, Neon Deion — although that one is awesome — Wilt the Stilt, Earl the Pearl, etc.). Sanders got "Prime Time" from a childhood friend during youth basketball games because Sanders always seemed to always play better during night games — “Prime Time,” indeed.

7) Golden Bear — Jack Nicklaus got this name because of his blonde hair and his stocky build. It was also the nickname of the sports teams at his high school in Upper Arlington, Ohio. And the logo on the golf shirts is awesome.

6) Bear Bryant — He got his nickname by wrestling a bear as a 13-year-old. At a carnival. For a DOLLAR. That’s one bad Bear.

5) Air Jordan — The nickname that spawned a billion sneakers.

4) Tiger — Given to him at a very young age by his father.

3) Walter Peyton — He earned the name “Sweetness” in college at Jackson State. The origin is unknown, and the stories range from his gracious personality to his array of football moves to the irony of how physical his approach to the game was.

2) Earvin Johnson — After a 15-year-old Johnson had 36 points, 16 rebounds and 16 assists in a high school basketball game, a Michigan sportswriter dubbed his performance ?Magic.? The name stuck.

1) Babe Ruth — After being signed as a 15-year-old by Baltimore Orioles owner Jack Dunn, young George Herman Ruth was dubbed “Jack’s new babe,” which was shortened into the most singularly renowned nickname of all-time. How great is The Babe? Well, one of his other nicknames was the Great Bambino, so in truth, his nickname had a nickname.

That’s all we got. We’re spent. We need a vacation.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Eustice_Chase said...


June 10, 2011 at 10:17 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I have about 20 Nicknames that just went through my mind but for the sake of staying calm and not getting crazy, going into a fit where I tear away my Shirt, drop the peoples elbow and slide into a slim jim promo...ill just take a few deep breathes and say..What an amazing list of Nicknames...Golden Pony Boy...Golden!!!

June 10, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

(standing, slow dramatic clap sequence where everybody joins in and the claps builds to a feverish roar)....nothing needs to be said......greatness. (except that I must a GREAT nickname if i do say so myself!) I mean for once i have nothing to add...nothing. I mean if we were there, we would pull a Rudy on ya and hoist you up and carry you out of the TFP office and into Wally's like the champ you are. And there would be a caption that would appear under your face "Never before was a player carried off the field, and no other player been carried off since" Carry on my wayward sons...carry on....for there is peace when you are done...go lay your weary head to rest, good sir...and dont you cry..oh no...dont cry, no more.

Oh, and mad props to EC for the question...which with out it, there would not have been the greatness that occured today. Gentleman, well played....well played indeed.

June 10, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.
patrickd said...

Best 5-at-10 to date. Also, bigbearzzz comment is priceless.

June 10, 2011 at 10:49 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Thanks for the kind words. And the 5-at-10 views Wally's like Homer Simpson views doughnuts... "Waaalllllyyy'ssss."

There were so many that were left on the cutting room floor.

The Mad Stork

Billy White Shoes Johnson

Macho Man


The Human Highlight Reel


There were even categories that got cut — like stadium nicknames (which adds to the legendary status of Babe since the "House that Babe Ruth Built" would be on that list) and games/plays like "Miracle on Ice" and the "Immaculate Reception."

EC — great questions.

Oso — Bear is a strong nickname

PDavi — Really think this is the best one? Don't know about that, we do love the draft (5-at-10s). This was definitely one of the most fun ones, though.

— 5-at-10

June 10, 2011 at 11:22 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

I just went and solved the nation's debit crisis and I invented a new replenishing fuel source that will replace our dependency on oil at new affordable rate of .25 a gallon and it actually creates Ozone Exhaust that will replenish the Ozone layer that was depleted due to years of pollution....all due to the inspiration that I obtained from this one article....greatness.

June 10, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

This was one of the Better 5@10s...if not the best its a top 3...without a debatting it..

OK Can someone tell me what happened to Lebron James..and by the way Lebron is probably the only guy that can have a triple double in a playoff loss and still get grief for not playing hard enough...he had 17pts, 10assts & 10rebs...and the guy still gets hammered..but you know what When you are the best player on earth...17 10 & 10 just isnt good enough...There is without a doubt going to be a Championship celebration in Miami..but I have a feeling Mark Cuban could be doing the "Dougie" with Jason Terry after game 6...I was a front runner for saying that Dallas had no chance at winning...but I will be more than happy to eat those words because I would love love love to see Dallas win...i believe Dallas has to do it in Game 6 Because i do not think Miami will lose a Game 7 at home.... wow what a series that has eneded up being...

Johnny Vols Fan..please let go of Phillip Fulmer...please!!!

UFC 131 is this weekend with a #1 Conntender at the Heavyweight title on the line ...Junior Dos Santos Vs Shane Carwin ( who is replacing the injured Brock Lesnar) UFC 131 will also be the debut of Kenny "KenFlo" Florian at the Featherwight Division (145)...(KenFlo was the Runner-up in the very first Season of The Ultimate Fighter in the Middleweight Division 185) it will also feature former ASU Wrestling Standout Mark Munoz vs BJJ Blackbelt and BJJ ACE...Damien MIa...other than that this is a pretyy weak UFC card..and they are also struggling with selling out the Rogers Area in Van Couver BC...might have something to do with a possible Stanely Cup Series that is going on...just a hunch....and there is not one single Candian on the fight card.... in other UFC news they are currently working on a deal to purchas the TV network G4...for like $600 Million...pretty sure a UFC network is going to happen sooner rather than later...(when will the TFP jump on the MMA bandwagon??)

Oso- Thank you...couldnt have done it without my 5@10 Family!!!

June 10, 2011 at 11:42 a.m.
patrickd said...

By the way, Jay, this guy was very upset after seeing your 'fighters category' for top nicknames.

June 10, 2011 at 11:56 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Oso —

Loved the Rudy line. Great stuff. And we want in on that little fuel invention you've developed. Here's saying that .25 fuel would be a money-maker.

EC —

Concur 100-percent: 17-10-10 is not enough when your team loses and you have two garbage points in the fourth quarter. (That charge call was bogus, but still.)

It has been a great series. And if it goes Game 7, well it could be an all-timer.

And a Mark Cuban NBA-title celebration could be off-the-charts. "The Dougie" is more than likely the favorite on the Vegas boards, but it's barely ahead of a similar move as Steve Martin did in "Parenthood" when his kid caught the pop, which is barely ahead of Cuban running across the floor, sliding on his knees and giving David Stern (and the head of NBA officiating) a arm-pumpin, double-one-gun salute. And in truth, the options may be limitless on what Cuban would pull. And dear Lord his title acceptance speech could be an all-timer: It could be up there with Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" speech or be a total train wreck like Mike Tyson saying he wanted to eat somebody's kids.

UFC getting its own channel would be a big-time step in the right direction. The mainstream media is coming toward MMA, and taking it off pay-per-view would help in a lot of ways in regard to mainstream fuddie-duddies like the TFP Sports Editor.

And yes, Johnny Vols Fan needs to move beyond Fulmer. In fact, UT brass needs to come out right now and say, "Fulmer will always have a special place in UT history, but this is time for a new direction." The longer this goes on, the more chance of people becoming entrenched either pro-Fulmer or anti-Fulmer and then the fan base will be fractured for the second time in three years over the same issue.

PDavi —

Sweet Golden Corral Yeast Rolls, where did you get that picture of Butterbean? That's a great, Great, GREAT call. Butterbean is such a great nickname it's like Meat Loaf — it's the only name people know them by. Other great food nicknames include TFP ace Ward "Snacks" Gossett, Jim "Catfish" Hunter and Chili Davis.

— 5-at-10

June 10, 2011 at 12:02 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Well here is just saying that if you ever need someone to submit an article on MMA...Pencil me in...pencil me in because you might be erasing my name as soon as you read my 1500 word essay about how Joe Rogan should not be permitted to wear skin tight long sleeve button up shirts...that Just Drives Mrs.EC into full blown cardiac-arrest and turns her into 14 year old teenier bopper...UFC PPV are tough at the homeplace when Joe Rogan shows up for post fight interviews.....

Naming an interim AD was probably UT's way of saying STHU ab Fulmer! But it also just added to the madness!

What does it say about Lebron's legacy if he loses twice in an NBA Finals.... how many did Jordan lose before he won his first ring? How many did Magic lose? Kobe? Either way Lebron needs to do some serious soul searching...saddle up...put the Miami Heat on his back and win these next two games...otherwise the mountain of crticism just gets higher and higher and higher

June 10, 2011 at 12:20 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

Speaking of yummy food and unquenchable appetites for some of Chattanooga's finest dining establishments....anybody heading over to 58? I could kill for a Steak in a Sack w/provolone and a side of Onion Rings from Ankers....

Which presents a question in my head and knowing that Cinco you wont be with us next week, I'll ask it now: If you had to pick one place in Chattavegas to eat, where would it be?

Wallys? Rib N Loin? Bea's? Ankers?

June 10, 2011 at 12:22 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

Make sure the Mrs. EC knows Rogan's like 5-1. (Even if he's not, it's a start.)

LeBron's legacy would take a big hit if the Mavs win this series. (Conversely, Dirk's legcay gets a huge lift if the Mavs win this one... Maybe even into top 5 power forward status.) And it's more than just losing the series, it's how they've put themselves in this hole. They have melted down in the fourth quarter in each of the Mavs' three wins. And LeBron has been anywhere from ineffective to invisible. (Jordan, Kobe, Bird, et al. — none of the great ones would have had a vanishing act like LeBron pulled in Game 4... He scored eight more points than the 5-at-10 did... in Game 4... OF THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP?).

He needs to win this series. Bad.

Oso — Steak in a sack is good stuff.

As for your question, there's no doubt, it's Wally's. By a comfortable margin. Some of our other favorites: Mom's, Tony's, and every place that serves Bud Light on draft. It's getting close to the weekend gang.

"I love the smell of vacation in the morning. It smells like... Victory."

— 5-at-10

June 10, 2011 at 12:40 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Nice try...she loves little people...which makes me wonder how she landed a 6'3 240 lb fellow like it goes...

Whats the Bigger story here...Dirk and J.Kidd Winning? or Lebron Losing? Thats tough

and if I get one last meal well lets see... Im going to Amigos in Hixson....

June 10, 2011 at 1:06 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Someone just Tweeted..." If you ask Lebron James for $1 he will only give you .75cents...He never gives you the 4th Quarter"....ouch

June 10, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

Bigger story is LeBron losing (and being non-involved and/or a non-factor at important-to-crucial times) in our view. It's hard to recall a bigger star fading away on a bigger stage than what we're watching. Stunning.

And you can never, Never, NEVER go wrong with Mexican food in general and Amigos in particular. Is there a better beer-food connection than Mexican food-and-those-32-ounce drafts in the frosty mug? Good times indeed.

As for that LeBron joke (and it's a cringe-worthy zinger) how brutal do you think sports talk radio in Cleveland was this morning. And playing off the nicknames-theme, the way Cavs fans turned the Nike James ad of "Witness" into "Quitness" seems pretty clairvoyant right now.

Question: If the Mavs win Game 6 — and LeBron has another stinker — which billionaire has the bigger party: Dallas owner Mark Cuban or Cavs owner Dan Gilbert?

June 10, 2011 at 2 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

So many great nicknames in sports. The Say Hey Kid. Marvelous Marvin Hagler (later legally co-opted to be his full name. Does that add or detract, I wonder?). Mr. Hockey. Lancaster "Flash" Gordon (even Tom "Flash" Gordon. Yes, both co-opted as well). The Human Highlight Reel (The Highlight Factory, the nickname for Philips Arena, eh, not so much). Larry Legend. The Wee Ice Mon (what the Scots called Ben Hogan). The Slammer. The Squire. The King (that's Arnie, not you LeBron.) Captain Outrageous, for one Ted Turner. And maybe, maybe, the best one of all time. The Intimidator. Have a good vacation, 5 at 10. Will the 5 at 10 Interwebtube be on vacation as well?

June 10, 2011 at 3:53 p.m.
jgreeson said...

BIspy —

Great list. The Intimidator... How did we forget the Intimidator? Oy vey. So it goes, we guess. The King (Arnie and Richard Petty) is up there with Lefty (Phil and Steve Carlton) as being the tag for Hall-of-Famers in two sports.

The plan is to have mini-5-at-10s next week. Top five lists with a sentence or two rather than the full ramblings — lots of folks say we talk too much anyway.

So it goes. Stay cool gang, and thanks for another great week. You now have our permission to move freely about Riverbend.

— 5-at-10

June 10, 2011 at 4:42 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

This is Ron Burgundy signing off saying stay class San Diego

June 10, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
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June 10, 2011 at 8:07 p.m.
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