Ram Legends Make USA Today Top 101 Greatest Nickname List


Deacon Jones and Bill Russell in a 2005 photo at a event in Santa Monica, California.

On “Throwback Thursday,” USA Today’s Touchdown Wire took a trip down memory lane and looked back at the 101 greatest nicknames in football history.

And two Los Angeles Rams made the cut, by cracking the top 10.

David “Deacon” Jones and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch came in at No. 9 and No. 8, respectively, in Touchdown Wire’s listings. Both are revered in NFL lore for having catchy nicknames, but Ram fans embrace them for their on-field accomplishments. Here’s what Thomas Neumann, who took the lead in compiling the list, said about both Ram legends.

‘Deacon’ Wanted to be Remembered

“Football is a violent world and Deacon has a religious connotation,” Deacon Jones told The Los Angeles Times in 1980. “I thought a name like that would be remembered.”

Not only is his name remembered, but so was his impact in helping invent the football term “sack” and for inventing the head slap to shed past offensive linemen. Neumann wrote this on “Deacon:”

“One of the greatest pass rushers in football history, he was an anchor of the Los Angeles Rams‘ famed Fearsome Foursome defensive line alongside Merlin Olsen, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier. Jones was selected to eight Pro Bowls and named first-team All-Pro five times during a 14-year NFL career with the Rams, San Diego and Washington.”

Jones played in an era where sacks weren’t recorded as an official stat. However, Pro Football Reference recently released unofficial sack totals by the defensive end who had three seasons of 20 or more sacks.

The Rams Twitter account reminded people of an additional nickname Jones had: The Secretary of Defense.

Even Jadeveon Clowney tried to channel his inner-Deacon Jones on this move against the San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Staley in 2019.

Chicago Sportswriter Gave Hirsch his Nickname

“His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions, all at the same time; he looked like a demented duck,” wrote Francis Powers in the Chicago Daily News when watching the former Wisconsin Badger bust a 65-yard touchdown against Great Lakes Naval Station on October 17, 1942.

From there, the legend of “Crazy Legs” was born.

While Hirsch started his career with the Chicago Rockets, he’s most revered for his time in Southern California, with Neumann writing:

“It was with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams that he would emerge with national acclaim. Hirsch led the league with 66 receptions for 1,495 yards and 17 touchdowns in 1951, the first of three consecutive seasons in which he would be selected to the Pro Bowl. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.”

Here’s samples of “Crazy Legs” in action.

Hirsch has the eighth-best nickname in NFL history by USA Today, but he’s also on another list: No. 94 on the “Greatest NFL Players of All-Time” list by The Athletic, which can be read here.

Notable Rams who Didn’t Make the Cut

“Deacon” and “Crazy Legs” are eye-grabbing nicknames on the gridiron. But what about “The Reverend” and “Big Game?”

Surprisingly, the other legendary Ram with the religious moniker Isaac Bruce didn’t make the top 101 list. He’ll soon enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame for shattering franchise receiving records and helping spearhead the franchise’s only Super Bowl title in 2000. Nevertheless, Bruce believes he and Holt hold this title: Best WR duo ever in an interview with CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo on Tuesday.

Torry Holt was another legendary Ram who didn’t make the list. Holt earned his nickname “Big Game” during his North Carolina State days. But the big plays continued in St. Louis: Catching no less than 82 passes and producing eight-straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2000 to 2007.

Regardless, though, Ram fans should be glad that two of the franchise’s greatest players have nicknames that are still admired to this day.