Top 5 NFL Franchise Names That Wouldn’t Fit in the NFL Today

The National Football League (NFL) has been in existence for just over a century and during that time the league has seen a lot of names that were indicative of the somewhat unorganized and identity-seeking era of pro football. With that, I think it’d be fun to look back at five of these names and laugh at how out of place they would be in the NFL today.

If you are in a professional sports league the quality of your play shouldn’t be in question. Amateur play is amateur (well maybe the NCAA doesn’t understand that, but that’s a story for another day), semi-pro is semi-pro etcetera, etcetera. However, this was the 1920s when pro football was fighting for relevancy and acceptance. With all that being said two teams wanted to assure fans, the media, and other teams that they are professional by calling themselves, the Pros. Akron, Ohio used the moniker from 1920-1925, and Hammond, Indiana used the nickname from 1920-1926. Somehow the two teams never played each other (which is quite tragic as a “Pro Bowl” would have been a great marketing tool). If you need to tell me you are professional, unprompted, it makes me question your professionalism. That’s like somebody walking about of store saying “I didn’t steal anything!” Nobody was questioning that beforehand but now I have my reservations. This name would be funny to see nowadays (especially in Cleveland were saying you have a ‘pro” football team is like Connecticut bragging the Hartford Whalers used to be in town) but it wouldn’t fit at all.

Imagine the NFL expanded to Hartford, Connecticut and the team name is the Connecticut, Hartfords. Does that make any sense, having your team name be that of where the team is based out of? I don’t understand the thought process but this didn’t stop three early NFL teams from trying this strategy out. The first team to bring this bold naming in the league was the Rochester Jeffersons (based out of Rochester, New York) who played their games near Jefferson Avenue, hence the name. The squad lasted from 1920-1925. Louisville had a team called the Breckenridges who played from 1921-1923. The Breckenridge is a very small arena inside of Louisville that still stands. These last two teams’ names were just odd to say, but the Staten Island Stapletons, that name sounds nice at least. As you can infer the team was headquartered in Stapleton, Staton Island. The team lasted from 1929-1932 but shortened the team name to the Stapes for their last season in the NFL. I’m glad this being named after a location fad is long dead (as are the days of kayfabe being the law in pro wrestling despite how mad Jim Cornette gets) because, to me, it sounds like a person ranting (just like Cornette).

The next name that just doesn’t hold up in the slightest is the Duluth Kellys (though technically, the official name was Kelley Duluths nobody calls them that). This “menacing” team played from 1923-1927 (though they went by Eskimos during 1926 and 1927). So what is a Kelley? Well, the team was named after the Kelley-Duluth Hardware Store. Now, on the one hand, this is just lazy naming, but on the other, you can make some great puns using this knowledge. Here are some examples (and please read this in your best early 1900s radio announcer voice): “The Kelleys lay the wood with this massive tackle. Duluth hammers the ball in for another score. The Kelleys defender nails the runner for a loss on this big play. The Duluth faithful go nuts after this score.” Should a hardware store sponsor a team again? Probably not. But at least I got to conjure up some puns.

Have you ever tried something once and then thought to yourself, “This is not meant for me! I can’t do that again.” Well, congratulations you are a one-hit-wonder. Join the like of Rick Astley, Vanilla Ice, Psy, and the Tonawanda Kardex. Who were the Tonawanda Kardex you ask? A team that played one NFL game in 1921. But my big question when doing research for this article was what a Kardex is. It turns out the Kardex Group (yay stocks) was founded in the area, so we have another company based team name. There are no clever jokes to make about this team. At least its nickname was original.

At last, we arrive in Dayton, Ohio, former home of the Triangles, who played in the NFL from 1920-1929. Sadly, the team name does not come from some geometry teacher who donated money to start the team (though that would be funny), but rather their home field of Triangle Park. Here is my big issue with the name. The football field at Triangle park back in 1920 looks to be thrown on the baseball field. What shape is associated with a baseball field? A diamond. Why not call them the Dayton Diamonds? It’s much more regal and still fits the whole “honoring the field at which you play” mantra. Well, the naming department could have used a few pointers I guess, but what are you going to do?