Black & Gold Review

New Orleans & Sports & Americana

The 10 Best Old-Timey Football Names

The 10 Best Old-Timey Football Names

They just don’t make football names like they used to. Cool Brees or Breesus are fun and all, but they’re no Crazylegs Hirsch or Red Grange or Bronko Nagurski. But there’s another truth: Those three famous guys? They ain’t got nothin’ on Tiny Feather.

I give you the ten best old-timey names in football.

10. Pug Manders


Clarence Edward “Pug” Manders
Brooklyn Dodgers/Tigers, 1939-1944
Boston/New York Yanks, 1945-1946
Buffalo Bills, 1947
That picture up there? That’s from the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame. I initially assumed the S and the D in the site’s URL meant San Diego. That it’s actually South Dakota makes Pug Manders about ten percent more awesome. Pug was, apparently, a pretty good football player. In 1941, as a halfback for Brooklyn, he won the NFL rushing title…with 486 yards.

9. Bill Daddio


Louis William Daddio
Chicago Cardinals, 1941-1942
Buffalo Bisons, 1946
The best thing about Bill Daddio’s name is that the awesome part of his name is like his actual real surname. The family name. Daddio. The name’s cool in the beatnik sense of the word, but Daddio was no beatnik. That gap in his career? That’s World War II. After the war, he was a player-coach for a season, then had a long, long career as an NFL scout.

8. Reggie Rust

Reginald Porter Rust
Boston Braves, 1932
Reggie Rust played one year. He didn’t do much. There are no pictures of him on the Internet.

7. Joe Stringfellow


Joseph Elbert Stringfellow
Detroit Lions, 1942
Stringfellow? Man, why don’t we have names like this anymore? Anyway, he didn’t play in the NFL very long–less than a year for Detroit, and I’m sure World War II had something to do with that–but Joe Stringfellow went to Mississippi Southern College, which later became the University of Southern Mississippi, and that’s where I went to school, and I love that place dearly, and also the image above is of the 1947 Mississippi Southern Southerners football team. Stringfellow was gone by then, but at least it’s a shot from the right general era. Also, in 1941, Mississippi Southern went undefeated, so I bet Stringfellow was actually really good.

6. Wendell Butcher


Wendell Ralph Butcher
Brooklyn Dodgers, 1938-1942
I feel like Roger Goodell would suspend this guy for a season just because of his last name. Also: He went to a college called Gustavus Adolphus. He’s in the Gustavus Adolphus Hall of Fame. And that’s something, I guess.

5. Stumpy Thomason


John Griffin “Stumpy” Thomason
Brooklyn Dodgers, 1930-1935
Philadelphia Eagles, 1936
Back in the days of Old-Timey Football, if this image is to be believed, they just up and gave star college football players bears. Because men were men, etc. The picture, from the University of South Carolina library, is of Stumpy Thomason with a live bear.

4. Shipwreck Kelly

John Simms “Shipwreck” Kelly
New York Giants, 1932
Brooklyn Dodgers, 1933-1934, 1937
We can probably best understand Shipwreck Kelly through his own words:

[pullquote2 quotes=”true” align=”center” variation=”slategrey” textColor=”#000000″]I got Ralph Kercheval to come to Brooklyn. He’d played at Kentucky just like I had. He was a halfback, but his real greatness was in kicking the football. He could punt, he could placekick. He was the best kicker ever to play the game. Hell, he could fart the football farther than these guys can kick it today. Shipwreck Kelly[/pullquote2]

3. Seaman Squyres


Charles Seaman Squyres
Cincinnati Reds, 1933

I didn’t forget to put quotes around his nickname. If Pro Football Reference can be believed, this guy’s actual middle name was Seaman. That counts for cool points. Also, what the hell kind of messed up thing is going on in that cigarette ad in the lower right corner of this Rice newspaper from Seaman’s era, and is it in any way related to his team’s “secret training?”

2. Honolulu Hughes


Henry Thomas “Honolulu” Hughes, Jr
Boston Braves, 1932
Honolulu Hughes might have had a short NFL career, but he’s still a member of the Hawai’i Sports Hall of Fame. He was the first native Hawaiian to play pro football. Before that, he was the first native Hawaiian to enroll at Oregon State University. After leaving the Boston Braves, according to the aforementioned hall of fame, Hughes coached football at his high school alma mater. Also, every other image of each of these old-timey guys is either intentionally or unintentionally hilarious. Pug Manders with a sledgehammer. Stumpy Thomason with a live bear. Our winner, below, posing faux-dramatically in that funny ancient football card way. It’s all macho stuff based on manly men trying too hard to be manly. Honolulu Hughes doesn’t need that bunk. He stands, unassumingly, hands on hips, wearing a particularly badass-looking old football uniform, looking somewhere off-camera. The other guys earn laughs, whether they want to or not. Honolulu Hughes commands respect.

1. Tiny Feather


Elwin Elton “Tiny” Feather
Cleveland Bulldogs, 1927
Detroit Wolverines, 1928
New York Giants, 1929-1931, 1932-1933
Staten Island Stapletons, 1931
Cincinatti Reds, 1934
First of all, why did they call him tiny? At six feet tall and around two hundred pounds, Feather wasn’t small for his era. Also, why did Detroit lose the Wolverines and gain the Lions? Wolverines is a way better name. Also also, State Island had an NFL franchise? Also also also, Tiny Feather had a relatively long career, especially for the era, but as best I can tell he did almost nothing during that career. A fullback at a time fullbacks were supposed to be primary rushing threats, he doesn’t seem to have exactly, you know, busted up the competition. But whatever: His last name was Feather, his nickname was Tiny, and we here at B&G think it’s time Tiny Feather won at something related to his pro football career.

Mr Feather: congratulations.


Bradley Warshauer
As a kid: Once read a newspaper so intently over a candle that I did not notice its ignition.