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Alan Goldsher is Collectable’s Head of Content.
Visit him at http://www.AlanGoldsher.com

Your Name Might Determine Your Fate

Brad Pitt was meant to be a leading man. 

Not due to his looks, which are undeniably fantastic. And not because of his talent, of which he has oodles.

It’s because of his name.

Think about it. Brad conjures up broad shoulders, sinewy muscle definition, piercing eyes, and a commanding voice. (The name Bradley, however, doesn’t conjure much of anything, but Bradley Cooper overcame this barely surmountable obstacle, so props to him.) As for Pitt, that’s both the written and verbal manifestation of a high-five.

Brad Pitt. Actor. Boom. It was meant to be.

In no profession is the cool-name-to-massive-success correlation more pronounced than that of NFL quarterback. If your parents bestowed upon you a first name that conjures up leadership, confidence, and athleticism—and if you’re lucky enough to have a surname that does the same—you could well be on your way to a 5,000-yard season, a Super Bowl MVP, or even the Hall of Fame.

Conversely, if the name on your birth certificate leads to derogatory catcalls that lead to schoolyard fisticuffs, your chances of succeeding at football’s highest level are potentially diminished.

To that end, here are 45 semi-randomly-chosen quarterbacks, some of whom have strong, evocative names that might well have helped bring them on-field transcendence, some of whom overcame iffy names to find success, and some of whom are saddled with names that keep them from going next-level.

Tier 1: Named to be the Best

Sammy Baugh 

Some single-syllable last names strike fear into the heart of opposing football players, and Baugh—which, when said just-so, comes across as a punch in the gut—is one of them. Baugh, FWIW is a Welsh name that was used as a nickname for short men, which, in this case, is a misnomer, as Slingin’ Sammy was 6’2”.

Tom Brady

You hear the name “Tom Brady” and you immediately think “Big Man on Campus” or “Strong Jawline” or “Dude Most Likely to Marry a Supermodel.” Had his parents Tom Sr. and Galynn opted to roll with Tommy or Thomas, there’s a decent chance Tom Jr. would’ve instead become a home economics teacher. (TB12 gets bonus points for overcoming the inevitable grade school Brady Bunch disses.)

Drew Brees

As noted above, single-syllable last names can be awesome, but add a single-syllable first name to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a future baller. And for the record, Drew is Brees’ given name, lucky for him, as Andrew Brees is far less quarterback-y. Excellent job, Gene and Mina Brees, excellent job indeed.

Otto Graham

Otto Everett Graham couldn’t lose. “Otto” is a German name meaning wealth and prosperity. “Everett” is Old English and denotes bravery. Also Old English, “Graham” means grand. Rich, brave, and big—dayummmm. What with that trio of names, if Otto wasn’t a quarterback, he’d have been the president of the galaxy. 

Sid Luckman

For today’s generation, the name Sid isn’t thing, but when the four-time champion was tearing it up for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s, it sure was. Another plus: Any name featuring some iteration of Luck is quarterback-y af. (H/T to Andrew Luck. We miss you, brother.)

Bart Starr

Best. Quarterback. Name. Ever. “Bart” is the onomatopoeic representation of a beautifully thrown football hitting an end zone-bound receiver’s hands. “Starr” is, y’know, a star. A perfect match of talent and name that will likely never be topped.

Honorable Mention: Drew Lock

No idea how the University of Missouri product’s NFL career will pan out, but based on that killer name of his—two single syllables and a last name that denotes all kinds of sports goodness—the sky is the limit.

Tier 2: Great Player, Almost Great Name

Troy Aikman

Let’s not mince words, here: Troy is an awesome quarterback moniker—it feels like battle. Aikman, not so much. In Scotland, Aikman translates to “oak man,” while in American English, it translates to, “I’ve got the aches, man.” Neither is a good option, but the first name mitigates the last.

Dan Fouts

Another one of those double single-syllable monikers that could’ve gone bad. Danny Fouts? Nope. Daniel Fouts? Nunh unh. Dan’s middle name is Francis, and D.F. Fouts is a non-starter. Besides, what with that beard of his, he’s totally a Dan Fouts.

Dayrle Lamonica

Name-wise, the Oakland Raiders great has so much going for him: The uncommon spelling of the first name. The musicality of the last name. And this isn’t even taking into account that his middle name is Pasquale. It’s not as in-your-face as Baugh, Brees, or Graham, but it’s exotic, original, and, dare we say it, sexy.

Warren Moon

The last name is equally as celestial as Bart Starr’s, but the name Warren isn’t. In this instance, a one-syllable name would’ve been super-appropriate, e.g., Dak Moon.

Tony Romo

The back-to-back-to-back “oh” sounds are simply transcendent. And why nobody ever pushed “Toe-Mo” as a nickname is beyond us.

Y.A. Tittle

Dude’s birth certificate reads “Yelberton Abraham Tittle,” so he had no choice but to go with Y.A. That said, Y.A. is arguably the dopest initial combo in NFL history. Tittle, however, unquestionably led to plenty of less-than-flattering nicknames. We shudder to think.

Johnny Unitas

If your name is John and you want to be a quarterback, start going by Johnny immediately. There are exceptions to the John/Johnny corollary, both good (see: Elway, John), and not-as-good (see: Manziel, Johnny), but generally speaking, Johnny feels All-Pro, while John feels second string.

Kurt Warner

This begs the question, what’s more quarterback-centric, Kurt or Curt? For some (like the author of this article), Kurt leads right to Cobain, and while the late Nirvana frontman was a grunge genius, he wasn’t QB material. But Curt with a C? Now we’re talking. 

Tier 2.1: Double Last-Namers

Randall Cunningham

Two strong names that could be construed as back-to-back last names screams signal caller. And if you’re a football prodigy lucky enough to be a 2X laster, lean into it. Like Randall Cunningham is totally a quarterback, but Randy Cunningham is an insurance salesman. A really good insurance salesman, mind you, but still an insurance salesman

Roman Gabriel

If you’re a linebacker, would you want to try and stop a 6’5” big-armed QB whose name, translated, is Powerful Strength? Hells no, you wouldn’t. Gabriel gets bonus points for his middle name, Ildonzo.

Peyton Manning

Manning’s name doesn’t have the oomph of Gabriel’s, but the double-last-name, the Manning family’s QB lineage, and Peyton’s general righteousness as an athlete and a person helps him overcome any deficiency of oomph.

Donovan McNabb

Donovan wouldn’t be a go-to QB name, but McNabb sure is. Scream it with us, now: MickNABB. Again. MickNABB. If said correctly, it sounds like an 80-yard bomb.

Carson Palmer

Between his touchdown of a name, the fact that he was a hometown hero at USC, and his dreamy eyes, it was inevitable that C.P. would be a Heisman Trophy winner, the number one pick in his draft class, and a three-time Pro Bowler. Had his middle name been something other than Hilton (ugh), we’re talking first ballot Hall of Famer.

Aaron Rodgers

Like Palmer, Rodgers is a doe-eyed Cali kid who starred at a Cali college and sports a double-last-name that sounds just like accuracy looks.

Russell Wilson

This little dude’s birth certificate had QB written all over it: Russell Carrington Wilson. He couldn’t go wrong: Russ Wilson, pow. R.C. Wilson, zap. Carrington Wilson, crunch. We should all be so lucky.

Honorable Mention: Baker Mayfield

Bay-May has yet to solidify himself as a top-tier quarterback, but his name will get him there. Maybe. Possibly. Possibly. Maybe. (BTW, is Bay-May a thing? If not, it should be.)

Tier 3: The Overcomers

Terry Bradshaw

Terry isn’t quarterback-y, but the Steelers legend’s middle name, Paxton, sure is. It’s possible that had he gone by Paxton Bradshaw—or maybe even T.P. Bradshaw—he’d have led Pittsburgh to five or six Super Bowl victories. Four rings are all fine and good, but still.

John Elway

There’s a reason John Elway almost played professional baseball, that reason being John Elway is a shortstop name. Johnny Elway, however, is all signal-caller, all the time, and might’ve helped him earn the Broncos more than one Lombardi trophy.

Bob Griese

Those of a certain generation will recall that Griese is pronounced greasy, a name that should’ve led to a career in, say, the automotive industry. But it didn’t, so bully for Bob.

Sonny Jurgensen

The name Sonny wouldn’t scare anybody, but it’s incrementally scarier than his full name of Christian Adolph. As for Jurgensen, it’s derived from the Greek word for farmer, as well as being the name of a martyr who was killed in the Third Century. How he was of the greatest quarterbacks of his generation is beyond us.

Dan Marino

Dan Marino is a boring name. Not bad. Not good. Not quarterback-y. Just dull. Having said that, Marino in Latin translates to “of the sea,” so it was inevitable he’d be a Dolphin. 

Joe Montana

Apologies to residents of the Treasure State, but Montana ain’t exactly most scintillating part of the United States. Had his name been Joe California, or Joe Illinois, or Joe New York, he’d have gone undefeated for his career.

Roger Staubach

Roger is solid first name—it loosely translates to “renowned spear” in German—but Staubach loosely translates to “build a dam,” which doesn’t inspire confidence under center. That all being the case, he probably should’ve been a defensive guard. (See what we did there? Build a dam? Guard? Eh, it was worth a shot.) 

Fran Tarkenton

We have no issues with names that transcend gender. Taylor, Charlie, Alex, Kelly, and their unisex ilk are all good—but not necessarily quarterback good. Tarkenton is the exception that proves the rule.

Tier 4: How is HE Even in the NFL?

Gardner Minshew

Possibly the nerdiest name in the history of the National Football League, this evokes the images of a bummed-out 13-year-old wearing a plaid suit, a striped bow tie, and pants that end above the ankle.

Kyler Murray

All his parents had to do was put an S in front of Kyler, and he’d have been the poster child for sweet 21st Century quarterback names. But they didn’t. Sigh.  

Ben Roethlisberger

There’s little doubt that until he grew big enough to defend himself, Big Ben heard schoolyard chants of, “Little Benny Hamburger, Little Benny Hamburger.” Little Benny Hamburger doth not a quarterback make.

Patrick Mahomes

Two reasons this doesn’t jibe: One, Pat is quarter-backy, but Patrick isn’t. Two: Everybody knows that Mahomes is a baseball name. Everybody.

Tier 5: Never Stood a Chance

Bubby Brister

Bubby = A grandmother. More appropriate profession based on name: Television meteorologist.

Tim Couch

Couch = Something you sit on. More appropriate profession based on name: Bubby Brister’s weekend fill-in.

Sam Darnold

Darnold = A curse word you use when you don’t want to curse. More appropriate profession based on name: Tax lawyer.

Blaine Gabbert

Gabbert = Somebody who talks too much. More appropriate profession based on name: Stand-up comic.

David Klingler

Klingler = A Star Trek character. More appropriate profession based on name: Sci-fi novelist.

Ryan Leaf

Leaf = A leaf. More appropriate profession based on name: Landscaper. (Duh.)

J.P. Losman

Losman = A loss, man. More appropriate profession based on name: Professional poker player

Nathan Peterman

Peterman = Something that cannot be discussed on our warm and fuzzy G-rated website. More appropriate profession based on name: Urologist.

Brock Osweiler

Osweiler = An obscure breed of dog. More appropriate profession based on name: Veterinarian.

Mitchell Trubisky

Trubisky = A soft, brie-like French cheese. More appropriate profession: Owner of a chain of car dealerships.