Commentators often call player-team pairings as “matches made in heaven,” a statement especially true for the star-studded New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams heading into this Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII. But sometimes, it doesn’t take excellent plays on game tape to give us evidence of a perfect fit; sometimes, you can just hear it. For each of the 32 NFL teams, here is the one player from franchise history whose name sounds the most like he’s a part of their organization.
New England Patriots- Tom Brady
Between the red, white and blue and ridiculous number of championship appearances, the Patriots represent America well, and what name sounds more American than their quarterback’s, Thomas Edward Brady, Jr.?
Buffalo Bills- Thurman Thomas
Similar to the double “f” in the Bills name, Thomas’s name has repetition of a soft sound, “th”, but during the Bills glory days in the 1990s, neither the team nor the player could be confused for anything soft.
Miami Dolphins- Larry Csonka
The rare “cs” consonant combination and the rarer “onka” sound just fit so well with the image of a playful Dolphin.
New York Jets- Shonn Greene
It doesn’t take a genius to get the connection- the team known as “Gang Green” and their former running back with the color as his last name. The double “n” in Greene’s first name adds a revving sound that goes well with the Jets moniker.
Baltimore Ravens- Peter Boulware
The Ravens have a rich history of players that sound, well, like a raven, but Peter Boulware, the linebacker from the team’s 2000 Super Bowl run, sounds dark, intimidating, and like a name that could only come from the mind of Edgar Allan Poe.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Ryan Shazier
The “shaze” sound of this Pro Bowl linebacker’s last name gives off an image of flying sparks, perfect with both the Steelers’ name and blue collar mentality.
Cincinnati Bengals- Giovani Bernard
The city name of Cincinnati already goes with its jungle cat mascot, but running back Giovani Bernard brings it to a whole nother level. Whether it is the “gio” combination” or the “r” repetition, Bernard’s name is quintessential Bengal.
Cleveland Browns- Barkevious Mingo
The sixth pick of the 2013 NFL Draft brought a name to the NFL that sounds deserving of a Key and Peele stretch. It works so well with the Browns because 1) the Browns’ Dawg Pound and canine mascot and 2) its sheer uniqueness.
Houston Texans- D’Onta Foreman
The Texans’ real mascot is a bull, and no name exemplifies the blunt force and strength of a bull like D’Onta. Foreman as a tough last name seals the deal.
Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck
It’s simple: the Colts’ horseshoe logo and their franchise quarterback’s last name align perfectly.
Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette
The similarity of “leonard” to “leopard” makes him seem like a seamless fit with another spotted cat team, the Jaguars. Fournette fits as well.
Tennessee Titans- Jevon Kearse
First off, Jevon Kearse may be the toughest football name of all-time (Peter Boulware is also in contention). Add in the mythological background of the Titans’ name and the “Kearse” in their talented former defensive end’s name, and the fit is unbeatable.
Los Angeles Chargers- Derek Watt
Here’s another literal fit- J.J.’s younger brother providing the ‘watts” to power the Bolts.
Denver Broncos- Mister Cobble
Step aside Barkevious Mingo, Key and Peele may have found a diamond in the rough with this one. Cobble, an undrafted free agent in 2014, has yet to find the field, but his name is fantastic and should be used by a jockey in the Kentucky Derby.
Kansas City Chiefs- Charcandrick West
Charcandrick is another awesome name that seems fit for a boss, or a Chief. Plus, Missouri is seen as the gateway to the West.
Oakland Raiders- Derek Carr
Essentially, the Raiders are pirates, and bellowing “Carr” isn’t all that different from saying “argh”. Bonus points for the “r” in Derek.
Dallas Cowboys- Dak Prescott
Michael Gallup is a close second, but everything about Raine Dakota Prescott’s name indicates a rough and tumble Cowboy.
Washington Redskins- John Riggins
Admittedly, this is a difficult one to navigate (see: Snyder, Daniel). I’ll go with former running back John Riggins, whose ragged rushing style fits well with the team’s mean Super Bowl identity.
Philadelphia Eagles- Donovan McNabb
Both “Donovan” and “McNabb” sound like names created in Eagle heaven.
New York Giants- Osi Umenyiora
The Giants’ name is a hard one to gauge, so I’ll go with a dude with an epic mouthful of a last name, Osi Umenyiora.
Chicago Bears- Mitchell Trubisky
The “ch” and “sk” sounds match well with Chicago and the team’s grizzly mascot.
Green Bay Packers- Brett Favre
Like the Giants, it’s hard to find a name that fits Packer. So I’ll liken “Favre” to carving cheese and pick Brett as a straightforward, blue-collar name.
Minnesota Vikings- Everson Griffen
There’s nothing Norse about this defensive lineman’s name, but his name just sounds mythical and the “v” in Everson matches the “v” in Vikings. Winning a Super Bowl would make it even more legendary.
Detroit Lions- Barry Sanders
Okay, okay, I just went with the best player in the Lions’ history, but the name is pretty much synonymous with the Lions’ brand and sounds swift.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Alterraun Verner
The coolest name in football and a great name for a pirate, Alterraun Verner is like Derek Carr times two.
New Orleans Saints- Marques Colston
Though he hails from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the best receiver in Saints history has a name with enough mystique to warrant a Mardi Gras parade.
Atlanta Falcons- Warrick Dunn
The last name doesn’t do much, but if I had a pet bird, Warrick would be on my short list of names.
Carolina Panthers- Fozzy Whittaker
This guy was literally in a Key and Peele sketch, and the marriage of “Fozzy” and panther is immaculate.
San Francisco 49ers- Robbie Gould
Literal fit alert- the 49ers found “Gould” in their recent kicker acquisition.
Seattle Seahawks- Marshawn Lynch
It’s the a-w-consonant combination that is the most obvious parallel, but this name gives off that speedy sound that Lynch brought to life in his time in the Emerald City.
Arizona Cardinals- Kurt Warner
Two r’s in the Cards’ names are topped by three r’s in the names of the only quarterback to carry them to a Super Bowl.
Los Angeles Rams- Eric Dickerson
The Rams are going to head-butt their way to victory, and the no-holds-barred “ick” sound in both this Hall of Famer’s first and last names fits the bill.