20 Worst Nicknames For Professional Athletes Of All Time

By Nicholas A. Marsico

There have been men and women given some amazing nicknames over the years. The high-flying Michael Jordan has been dubbed “Air” Jordan and “His Airness”. There’s “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, which is one of the best alliterative nicknames ever. Frank Thomas was “The Big Hurt”. That’s freakin’ awesome. Wayne Gretzky is “The Great One”. Too bad some people weren’t so lucky.

20 Worst Nicknames For Professional Athletes Of All Time
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20. Anthony "Booger" McFarland

Anthony "Booger" McFarland Credit: Getty Images
A first round draft pick from LSU, Booger McFarland played in the NFL for less than a decade but walked away from the sport at just 31 years old as a Super Bowl champion with both teams he played for. The former Colt and Buccaneer is active on sports radio in the Tampa Bay area and on the SEC Network. He 'earned' his nickname from his mother when he was just 2, for being what he describes "a bad kid, man... a bad kid."

20. Anthony "Booger" McFarland

A first round draft pick from LSU, Booger McFarland played in the NFL for less than a decade but walked away from the sport at just 31 years old as a Super Bowl champion with both teams he played for. The former Colt and Buccaneer is active on sports radio in the Tampa Bay area and on the SEC Network. He 'earned' his nickname from his mother when he was just 2, for being what he describes "a bad kid, man... a bad kid."

19. "Awesome Bill From Dawsonville" Bill Elliott

"Awesome Bill From Dawsonville" Bill Elliott Credit: Getty Images Sport
From Dawsonville, Georgia. Yeah. To be fair, he was pretty awesome. He's a NASCAR Hall of Famer, has won the Winston Cup and took the checkered flag at the Daytona 500 on a pair of occasions. Elliott is one of the most popular drivers of all time, something he earned in a career that spanned four different decades. The nickname's pretty corny, but it does feel very NASCAR.

19. "Awesome Bill From Dawsonville" Bill Elliott

From Dawsonville, Georgia. Yeah. To be fair, he was pretty awesome. He's a NASCAR Hall of Famer, has won the Winston Cup and took the checkered flag at the Daytona 500 on a pair of occasions. Elliott is one of the most popular drivers of all time, something he earned in a career that spanned four different decades. The nickname's pretty corny, but it does feel very NASCAR.

18. "The Flying Tomato" Shaun White

"The Flying Tomato" Shaun White Credit: Getty Images
One of the most prolific (and probably most popular) snowboarders of all time, Shaun White was most easily noticeable by his huge mop of red hair. He has since sheared the locks and with it the nickname "The Flying Tomato", which was given to him in a passing remark by a commentator. He embraced it for quite a while, but "Animal" (after the Muppet) was way cooler and "Future Boy" is all kinds of awesome.

18. "The Flying Tomato" Shaun White

One of the most prolific (and probably most popular) snowboarders of all time, Shaun White was most easily noticeable by his huge mop of red hair. He has since sheared the locks and with it the nickname "The Flying Tomato", which was given to him in a passing remark by a commentator. He embraced it for quite a while, but "Animal" (after the Muppet) was way cooler and "Future Boy" is all kinds of awesome.

17. Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson

Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson Credit: Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images
The former Pistons guard earned his nickname by being a sometimes valuable sixth man. While in itself the nickname isn't terrible (it was given to him as a reference to Chicago Bears' "Refrigerator Perry"), it cemented his legacy as being not quite good enough to start. He came to the Detroit along with Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer -- it's tough to be in the starting lineup with those two playing your position.

17. Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson

The former Pistons guard earned his nickname by being a sometimes valuable sixth man. While in itself the nickname isn't terrible (it was given to him as a reference to Chicago Bears' "Refrigerator Perry"), it cemented his legacy as being not quite good enough to start. He came to the Detroit along with Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer -- it's tough to be in the starting lineup with those two playing your position.

16. Manu "Obi-Wan" Ginobili

Manu "Obi-Wan" Ginobili Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
The four-time NBA champion has been with the San Antonio Spurs for his very strong 14-year NBA career. Still a staple for the team, the 38-year-old star's nickname sounds like it was given to him by the least cool old white guy ever. It's just too easy.

16. Manu "Obi-Wan" Ginobili

The four-time NBA champion has been with the San Antonio Spurs for his very strong 14-year NBA career. Still a staple for the team, the 38-year-old star's nickname sounds like it was given to him by the least cool old white guy ever. It's just too easy.

15. "Chicken Man" Wade Boggs

"Chicken Man" Wade Boggs Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The man's a darn Hall of Famer, give him a better nickname! First of all, with a name like Wade Boggs, a nickname is not needed. Second of all, it comes from his pre-game ritual, superstition, really, to eat fried chicken in the clubhouse. He wasn't oft-referred to as "Chicken Man Boggs", which helps, but he's a hero who rode a freakin' horse in Yankee Stadium after winning the World Series! Don't saddle (ha!) him with "Chicken Man". Golly!

15. "Chicken Man" Wade Boggs

The man's a darn Hall of Famer, give him a better nickname! First of all, with a name like Wade Boggs, a nickname is not needed. Second of all, it comes from his pre-game ritual, superstition, really, to eat fried chicken in the clubhouse. He wasn't oft-referred to as "Chicken Man Boggs", which helps, but he's a hero who rode a freakin' horse in Yankee Stadium after winning the World Series! Don't saddle (ha!) him with "Chicken Man". Golly!

14. "Dat Dude" Brandon Phillips

"Dat Dude" Brandon Phillips Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Creative. Might as well just be "Him", or "That Guy Over There".

14. "Dat Dude" Brandon Phillips

Creative. Might as well just be "Him", or "That Guy Over There".

13. "Ol' Stubblebeard" Burleigh Grimes

"Ol' Stubblebeard" Burleigh Grimes Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Hall of Famer and journeyman pitcher Burleigh Grimes, like many pitchers these days, had a superstition. He didn't shave on the days he pitched. Due to that, his teammates decided to call him "Ol' Stubblebeard". Granted it was the 1920s, but that's still pretty weak. Not everybody needs a nickname.

13. "Ol' Stubblebeard" Burleigh Grimes

Hall of Famer and journeyman pitcher Burleigh Grimes, like many pitchers these days, had a superstition. He didn't shave on the days he pitched. Due to that, his teammates decided to call him "Ol' Stubblebeard". Granted it was the 1920s, but that's still pretty weak. Not everybody needs a nickname.

12. "Mr. May" Dave Winfield

"Mr. May" Dave Winfield Credit: Getty Images
He's a Hall of Famer and eventually played for a World Series Championship team, but Dave Winfield's playoff history, especially as a Yankee, had a bit to be desired. After being less productive than expected in the 1981 World Series (and later playoff seasons) George Steinbrenner, who already disliked the star player, derisively referred to him as "Mr. May", a contrast to Reggie Jackson's "Mr. October". Ouch.

12. "Mr. May" Dave Winfield

He's a Hall of Famer and eventually played for a World Series Championship team, but Dave Winfield's playoff history, especially as a Yankee, had a bit to be desired. After being less productive than expected in the 1981 World Series (and later playoff seasons) George Steinbrenner, who already disliked the star player, derisively referred to him as "Mr. May", a contrast to Reggie Jackson's "Mr. October". Ouch.

11. "Purple Jesus" Adrian Peterson

"Purple Jesus" Adrian Peterson Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
While it's not his prominent nickname, the Vikings running back better known as "AP" or "AD" (for his initials or his other nickname, "All Day") was given the moniker "Purple Jesus" about a decade ago, and it's one of the silliest names around.

11. "Purple Jesus" Adrian Peterson

While it's not his prominent nickname, the Vikings running back better known as "AP" or "AD" (for his initials or his other nickname, "All Day") was given the moniker "Purple Jesus" about a decade ago, and it's one of the silliest names around.

10. "Muscle Hamster" Doug Martin

"Muscle Hamster" Doug Martin Credit: Getty Images Sport
He hates the nickname, but the one he's trying to get people to call him is worse. "Dougernaut"? Really? Come on, dude. He got the nickname in college after sticking up for his girlfriend, a small girl who spent a lot of time in the gym. Martin is also jacked, so he picked up the nickname on a larger scale. He's fairly short, has big muscles and it takes like eight people to tackle him. Embrace it, man!

10. "Muscle Hamster" Doug Martin

He hates the nickname, but the one he's trying to get people to call him is worse. "Dougernaut"? Really? Come on, dude. He got the nickname in college after sticking up for his girlfriend, a small girl who spent a lot of time in the gym. Martin is also jacked, so he picked up the nickname on a larger scale. He's fairly short, has big muscles and it takes like eight people to tackle him. Embrace it, man!

9. Tyrann "The Honey Badger" Mathieu

Tyrann "The Honey Badger" Mathieu Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Cardinal youngster Tyrann Mathieu has the top of his head dyed a bright yellow/orange. He's a safety, so he has instincts to go toward the ball... I don't know. It's a really ugly nickname.

9. Tyrann "The Honey Badger" Mathieu

Arizona Cardinal youngster Tyrann Mathieu has the top of his head dyed a bright yellow/orange. He's a safety, so he has instincts to go toward the ball... I don't know. It's a really ugly nickname.

8. "Bad Porn" Corey Maggette

"Bad Porn" Corey Maggette Credit: Getty Images
He was signed to a five-year big money contract by the Golden State Warriors in 2008. After a very disappointing pair of seasons, he was shipped off and spent the final three years of his career with three different teams. The nickname, which came from Warriors fans online, is described as such: “Sure, there’s penetration and scoring, but are you really happy with what you’re seeing?” Classic.

8. "Bad Porn" Corey Maggette

He was signed to a five-year big money contract by the Golden State Warriors in 2008. After a very disappointing pair of seasons, he was shipped off and spent the final three years of his career with three different teams. The nickname, which came from Warriors fans online, is described as such: “Sure, there’s penetration and scoring, but are you really happy with what you’re seeing?” Classic.

7. "Uncle Rico" Kyle Orton

"Uncle Rico" Kyle Orton Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
His nine-year playing career was lackluster, but at least his nickname (after the character from 'Napoleon Dynamite') seems to fit the 33-year-old retired former QB.

7. "Uncle Rico" Kyle Orton

His nine-year playing career was lackluster, but at least his nickname (after the character from 'Napoleon Dynamite') seems to fit the 33-year-old retired former QB.

6. Jeffery "Penitentiary Face" Leonard

Jeffery "Penitentiary Face" Leonard Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
While he doesn't appear to have the look any longer now that he's 60, the 14-year pro and two-time All-Star best known for his time with the San Francisco Giants had a nickname bestowed upon him that you would never see happen these days. Dubbed "Penitentiary Face" due to his cold stare and frighteningly deep eyes, he certainly looked like he had seen some things. But seriously, that nickname is harsh.

6. Jeffery "Penitentiary Face" Leonard

While he doesn't appear to have the look any longer now that he's 60, the 14-year pro and two-time All-Star best known for his time with the San Francisco Giants had a nickname bestowed upon him that you would never see happen these days. Dubbed "Penitentiary Face" due to his cold stare and frighteningly deep eyes, he certainly looked like he had seen some things. But seriously, that nickname is harsh.

5. "Matty Ice" Matt Ryan

"Matty Ice" Matt Ryan Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
A No. 3 overall draft pick in 2008, the successful Atlanta Falcons quarterback was a much-needed boost after the team lost Michael Vick. He holds pretty much every Falcons QB record, but also holds the record for "Most College Nickname" ever. Seriously. Nicknamed after a cheap beer?

5. "Matty Ice" Matt Ryan

A No. 3 overall draft pick in 2008, the successful Atlanta Falcons quarterback was a much-needed boost after the team lost Michael Vick. He holds pretty much every Falcons QB record, but also holds the record for "Most College Nickname" ever. Seriously. Nicknamed after a cheap beer?

4. "Baby Jordan" Harold Miner

"Baby Jordan" Harold Miner Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Yes, he got the nickname in high school, but it stuck all the way through his disappointing four years as a pro in the NBA. He was the No. 12 pick overall in 1992 after being a star at USC and he won the Slam Dunk Contest twice! And he was maybe the least deserving person to ever hold that nickname. At least he didn't give the name to himself.

4. "Baby Jordan" Harold Miner

Yes, he got the nickname in high school, but it stuck all the way through his disappointing four years as a pro in the NBA. He was the No. 12 pick overall in 1992 after being a star at USC and he won the Slam Dunk Contest twice! And he was maybe the least deserving person to ever hold that nickname. At least he didn't give the name to himself.

3. Russell "Rusty" Kuntz

Russell "Rusty" Kuntz Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
"Rusty" is a pretty standard nickname for a guy named Russell. Thing is, with such an unfortunate last name, that was probably not the best way to go. I guess there are many that could be worse, but I'll let you enjoy coming up with them yourselves.

3. Russell "Rusty" Kuntz

"Rusty" is a pretty standard nickname for a guy named Russell. Thing is, with such an unfortunate last name, that was probably not the best way to go. I guess there are many that could be worse, but I'll let you enjoy coming up with them yourselves.

2. "Johnny Football" Manziel

"Johnny Football" Manziel Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Manziel had an insane freshman year at Texas A&M, being the first frosh to win the Heisman Trophy, Manning Award and Davey O'Brien National QB Award. Not the first to win all three in one season, but the first freshman to win any of them. He pretty much got top voting for everything in 2012. His time in the NFL has been troublesome due to a bad attitude and other off-the-field problems. He earned the name in college, but it should be revoked.

2. "Johnny Football" Manziel

Manziel had an insane freshman year at Texas A&M, being the first frosh to win the Heisman Trophy, Manning Award and Davey O'Brien National QB Award. Not the first to win all three in one season, but the first freshman to win any of them. He pretty much got top voting for everything in 2012. His time in the NFL has been troublesome due to a bad attitude and other off-the-field problems. He earned the name in college, but it should be revoked.

1. Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson

Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
I wonder if he ever figured out that "Ocho Cinco" is the separate numbers eight and five, not the actual Spanish word for the number 85. Dude wore out his welcome when he legally changed his last name to Ochocinco for a while because he wanted to wear the nickname on the back of his jersey that badly. Ugh. Bad nicknames stink, but they're worse when they are self-appointed and annoyingly overused.

1. Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson

I wonder if he ever figured out that "Ocho Cinco" is the separate numbers eight and five, not the actual Spanish word for the number 85. Dude wore out his welcome when he legally changed his last name to Ochocinco for a while because he wanted to wear the nickname on the back of his jersey that badly. Ugh. Bad nicknames stink, but they're worse when they are self-appointed and annoyingly overused.

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