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    Best Cincinnati Bengals Nicknames of All Time: From Ocho Cinco to Shiesty

    Some of the most recognizable names in Cincinnati Bengals history don’t match the birth certificate.

    Nicknames have been a part of sports longer than gloves, shoulder pads, and helmets.

    There are no stats or other quantitative ways to buttress an argument on the quality of a nickname. It’s purely subjective, and there will no doubt be people who get big mad about where some of them are slotted on this list of the best Bengals nicknames of all time.

    Before the hand-wringing and tsk-tsking begins, let’s discuss the ground rules.

    Ranking the Best Cincinnati Bengals Nicknames of All Time

    Initials and the shortening of names are not included, so you won’t find Lap (Dave Lapham), Whit (Andrew Whitworth), Gio (Giovani Bernard), or Nuuuuuge (Mike Nugent).

    Timing matters. Players who brought the nicknames with them to the Bengals are eligible for the list, such as Elbert Woods, who has gone by Ickey since childhood.

    Nicknames created after a player left are not. Sorry, Clock Killin’ Corey Dillon and Flyin’ Brian Pillman.

    The bottom line is a given: Anything other than a player’s given name on his birth certificate counts as a nickname, but it still must meet the above criteria.

    Before we get to the list, let’s dive into some side categories, starting with groups.

    The WEBB

    A great nickname for a stingy Cincinnati defensive line in the mid-1970s that doubles as an acronym using starters’ last names: Wilson Whitley, Eddie Edwards, Gary Burley, and Ross Browner.

    SWAT Team

    The nickname for the starting secondary on the 1988 Super Bowl team featuring Eric Thomas, Lewis Billups, David Fulcher, and Solomon Wilcots wasn’t an anagram, but it was a double entendre accentuating the group’s ability to swat down passes and serve as the enforcers of the defense.

    Fisher Price Package

    The defensive line sub package early last decade featured budding young stars Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Michael Johnson and was named after the toy company that specializes in products for toddlers and preschoolers.

    Several Bengals coaches also have memorable nicknames:


    Though he earned the nickname during his first season playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Bill “Tiger” Johnson had the perfect nickname for a coach of the Bengals. Paul Brown’s offensive line coach from the team’s inception in 1968 until ’75, Johnson took over as head coach after Brown retired.

    MORE: The Best Nicknames in NFL History From “Slash” to “Sweetness”

    Remembered by many as one of the biggest what-ifs in franchise history, Johnson got the job instead of Bill Walsh and ended up going 18-10 in his first two seasons before resigning after a 0-5 start in 1978. Walsh went on to win three Super Bowls with the 49ers, two of which were against the Bengals.

    Wicky Wacky

    Sam Wyche received the nickname Wicky Wacky for the creative nature of his offensive formations and playcalling. It also fit his personality, as his press conferences were sometimes as unpredictable as his offenses.

    Mad Scientist

    Bengals safety Vonn Bell is believed to be the one who first labeled defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo as the mad scientist due to his knack for experimenting with new schemes and formations — sometimes on the fly in the middle of games — during the team’s run to Super Bowl 56 in 2021.

    Top 15 Nicknames for Cincinnati Bengals Players

    There have been 1,092 players who have appeared in at least one game for the Bengals, and all of them probably had some sort of nickname. Some of them might have been awesome but went unknown due to the player’s limited role on the team.

    It would be impossible to compile a complete, comprehensive list.

    The nicknames that appear below are the most entertaining as well as the most well-known, depending on the age range of the reader as well as that of the player.

    Honorable mention

    • Eric “Sleeping With” Bieniemy
    • “Uno” – Ja’Marr Chase
    • “Cadillac” – Cris Collinsworth
    • “Terminator” – John Conner
    • “Baby Hawk” – Andrew Hawkins
    • “Slim” – Chris Henry
    • “Boom” – Dan Herron
    • “Essex Express” – Essex Johnson
    • “Chuck Sizzle” – Charlie Jones
    • “Leapin’ Lemar” Parrish
    • “TKO” – Takeo Spikes
    • Speedy Thomas (given name: Louis Timothy Thomas III)
    • “Big Daddy” – Dan Wilkinson
    • “The Condor” – Alfred Williams
    • “Mount Wren” – Renell Wren

    And, one that hasn’t stuck but should is “The Cincinnati Kid” for Sam Hubbard, which is what announcer Mike Tirico called him in the middle of his 98-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the 2022 Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens.

    OK, on to the best of the best.

    15) Two Check

    During the 2021 playoff run, the Bengals signed Zach Kerr off the Arizona Cardinals practice squad, and his defensive linemates gave him the nickname because he was getting paid by both teams.

    14) Uncle Mike

    Safety Michael Thomas was the veteran leader in a young secondary. Not only was he almost as old as safeties coach Robert Livingston, but his affable personality and sage wisdom made him a confidant for his young teammates, who dubbed him “Uncle Mike.”

    13) Ocho Cinco

    Some might expect Chad Johnson’s alias to be higher on this list, but the beauty of a nickname is its origin, and creating your own nickname should be a disqualifier. And it would be if Johnson wasn’t one of the best players in franchise history.

    Johnson started calling himself Ocho Cinco in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month in 2006. It was a bastardized term for his jersey number, 85. The Spanish term of 85 is ochenta y cinco

    Also, he legally changed his name to Chad Ochocinco at one point, which meant it no longer was a nickname.

    12) Fo-Rock

    Safety and Ring of Honor nominee David Fulcher earned the nickname for his hard-hitting patrolling of the secondary from 1986-1992.

    11) Shake ‘n Blake

    Blake Mania took over the city when Jeff Blake replaced David Klinger as the starting quarterback in 1994 and nearly beat the two-time defending champion Dallas Cowboys in his first career start.

    The Shake ‘n Blake nickname really took off when Cincinnati native Bootsy Collins and Leslie Isaiah Gaines, a local judge, recorded a song about Blake’s sudden celebrity and success.

    10) Pacman

    Cornerback Adam Jones got the nickname from his mother, who said he would attack a bottle of milk the way the video game character Pac-Man chomped pellets in the maze.

    The nickname stuck and took on new meaning with Jones channeling the character with his twisting, turning, elusive returns of interceptions, punts, and kickoffs.

    Late in his career with the Bengals, Jones tried to distance himself from the nickname, as many viewed it as synonymous with his long list of legal issues. But he forever will be known as Pacman.

    9) Red Rifle

    It would seem as though Andy Dalton would have been called the “Red Rifle” earlier in life as a red-haired quarterback, and some believe it was used during his days at TCU.

    But according to a 2011 story in “The Cincinnati Enquirer,” Bengals play-by-play announcer Dan Hoard bestowed the nickname during Dalton’s rookie season.

    Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt invoked the nickname in a hilarious on-field interview after upsetting the 8-0 Bengals in 2015, saying, “Our goal was to come out here and make the Red Rifle look like a Red Ryder BB Gun.”

    8) Money Mac/Legatron/Kickpherson/Shooter

    No one in team history has more nicknames than kicker Evan McPherson, and they’re all pretty great.

    If only one of them existed, it might be higher on the list, but it’s kind of like a team with multiple star players splitting MVP votes.

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    As for a list within the list, I’ll go with Legatron — an homage to Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s nickname of Megatron — as my favorite. I’ll go with Shooter as No. 2, followed by Money Mac and Kickpherson.

    7) Joe Shiesty/Joe Brrr

    An exception to the rule, “Joe Brrr” for Joe Burrow is more than just the shortening of his name. It’s a tribute to his “ice water in the veins” persona, and coupling it with a play on his name is perfect.

    “Shiesty” appears to be a melding of rapper Pooh Shiesty and his rolling of the letter “R” in his lyrics, which fits with “Brrr.” The literal definition of “shiesty” — someone who is unprofessional or unscrupulous — but the Urban Dictionary evolution — an action that is greedy and inconsiderate of others — fits his play on the field.

    Like McPherson, Burrow has a roster of nicknames, but the others such as Joey Franchise and Jackpot Joey haven’t had the legs as the main two. And Joe Cool is just ridiculous — and rejected by Burrow — because it already belongs to Joe Montana.

    6) Boomer

    The earliest nicknamed Bengals player of all time, Norman Julius Esiason got the nickname “Boomer” while he was still in the womb because he kicked so much.

    The nickname stuck and was perfect, albeit not all that original, for a star high school quarterback who went on to win an NFL MVP and lead the Bengals to a Super Bowl.

    Much like Pacman, Boomer will always be Boomer.

    5) Ickey

    Woods’ nickname is as original and iconic as it gets.

    He started going by “Ickey” when his little brother couldn’t pronounce “Elbert” and would double the “E” sounds, as in “Eeee Eeee.”

    That turned into Ickey, and during his rookie season with the Bengals, he turned the Ickey Shuffle into one of the greatest phenomena in franchise history.

    Ickey follows the path of Pacman and Boomer by still answering to his nickname to this day.

    4) The Rattler

    Hall of Fame cornerback Ken Riley earned his nickname during his rookie season in 1969 as a tribute to his college mascot, the Rattlers of Florida A&M.

    But it took on greater meaning throughout his 15-season career as he rattled the confidence of opposing quarterbacks with 65 interceptions, which still tie for the fifth most in NFL history.

    And he rattled wide receivers whenever they dared to leap for passes by barreling into the back of their legs, sending them somersaulting to the turf, often landing painfully on their head or back.

    3) Throwin’ Samoan

    During his first season as the starter for the Washington State Cougars, Jack Thompson received the “Throwin’ Samoan” nickname from Spokane’s “The Spokesman-Review” sports columnist Harry Missildine.

    Proud of his Samoan heritage, Thompson loved the nickname, and it stuck with him through his pro career, which began in 1979 when the Bengals made him the No. 3 pick in the draft.

    Locked behind starter Ken Anderson, Thompson started just five games during his four seasons in Cincinnati. He might own the greatest nickname-to-minimal-performance discrepancy in NFL history.

    2) The Law Firm

    Original and nearly foreshadowing, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ nickname came from fans, not teammates, as they thought the four syllables sounded like the name of a law firm.

    That alone makes it one of the best nicknames not just in Bengals history but in all of the NFL.

    As great as is it on the surface, it almost had a double meaning, as Green-Ellis attended law school during the one year he was forced to sit out after transferring from Ole Miss to Indiana.

    Had the NFL not worked out, the Law Firm might have been employed by a law firm.

    1) Boobie

    A fan favorite of middle-school-aged boys throughout the 1970s, Charles Lee Clark’s nickname drew plenty of snickers and blushes.

    A 12th-round pick out of Bethune-Cookman in 1973, Boobie Clark certainly owns one of the most unique nicknames in NFL history, and the slightly naughty nature of it only enhances its greatness.

    There’s also an aura of mystery. Clark said he received the nickname in high school, but the reason for it is unknown.

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