There are no National Football League teams in the magical world of Oz, but there are Lions, Bengals, and Bears. The NFL has 32 teams—each with a unique story about how it came to be. Some names were chosen by fan contests, while others had ties to former professional sports teams. There is an abundance of animal names, and other monikers steeped in a rich history. Others, like the Washington Redskins (rebranded in February 2022 as the Washington Commanders) and Kansas City Chiefs, have drawn controversy and protest for years.
For 100 years, the Arizona Cardinals kept the same nickname as the team moved from Chicago to St. Louis for the 1960-1961 season, then to Arizona in 1988, where the Cardinals remain today. As the NFL got older, relocation became a common occurrence—but we will explain the intricacies of how franchises in Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Baltimore are all intertwined (and even how the Baltimore Ravens attempted to buy the Indianapolis Colts’ name, despite having no previous ties to the franchise).
Stacker delved into the story behind every NFL football team name. Overall team records, also included, are reflective of NFL regular-season games. There are some football teams with well-known nicknames—the Jets, for instance, are often referred to as Gang Green—but we also divulge how some teams’ official names are sparingly used (the Jets’ neighbors, the Giants, are actually known as the New York Football Giants). Sometimes a team name can tell you a lot about local history: The Vikings of Minnesota draw upon the area’s strong ties to Scandinavia, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dripping in local legend related to Florida’s pirate past.
Let’s kick off the countdown with the folks who earned their nickname by buying boxes of used team jerseys.