Recently, Touchdown Wire listed their choices for the 101 greatest nicknames in NFL history.
Many of the choices such as "Broadway Joe" (Joe Namath), "Sweetness" (Walter Payton), and "the Minister of Defense" (Reggie White were obvious choices.
I was disappointed to find, however, that only a few of those monikers listed came from one of sports' greatest nickname creators, ESPN’s Chris Berman.
One of my favorite hobbies is watching old episodes of NFL Primetime on YouTube. As a result, I have many Boomer’s nicknames stuck in my head, and I thought it might be fun to revisit some of his most memorable nicknames given to members of the Giants.
This nickname wasn’t used when Bill Belichick was the Giants' defensive coordinator. Still, given his game-day appearance that has come to include his famous hoodie with the sleeves cut off, the longtime head coach of the Patriots is sometimes referred to by Berman as “The Nattily-Clad” Bill Belichick.
Speaking of attire, the player I recently listed as the greatest receiver in Giants history was one letter away from having his first name matched with the last name of Armani, an iconic fashion designer. It’s a bit of a stretch, but on NFL Primetime, No. 81 was always introduced as “Well-Dressed” Amani Toomer.
The Giants’ punter during their Super Bowl season of 2007 had a last name that, if you weren't paying attention, you'd swear you heard ia mention of a Giants' arch-rival. Coincidentally, this punter once was part of that team as well: Jeff “Philadelphia” Feagles.
A rarely-used running back in the late 90s and early 2000s played 11 games for the Giants, in which he scored three touchdowns. He wouldn’t have been well-remembered if his name didn’t resemble the lyrics of a classic Rolling Stones song from 1965: “Hey-hey, you-you, get off of Mike Cloud!”
Berman’s musical nicknames didn’t stop there, however. In fact, some of them went way back in time.
When quarterback Phil Simms retired after the 1993 season, his replacement at quarterback was a quarterback out of Duke chosen in the first round of the 1992 Supplemental draft, Dave Brown. Even a generic name like Dave Brown turned into a great nickname: “Dave Brown and His Band of Renown.”
Those with long memories might recall a bandleader from the 1940s and 50s named Les Brown and "His Band of Renown."
Unless you're a fan of the Big Band era, you might not have heard of Cab Calloway, one of the founders of the big-band genre. But you’re likely familiar with a song of his called Minnie the Moocher, which includes a catchy call-and-response lyric section where Calloway leads with “Hi-dee-hi-dee-hi-dee-hi,” and the band echos the chorus.
Berman struck gold when a Giants receiver out of Michigan named Chris Calloway came into the NFL some 60 years after that song was first popular. Any time he caught a touchdown or made a big play on a highlight, Boomer and his longtime co-host, Tom Jackson, would sing that same pattern back to each other, with the receiver dubbed Chris "Cab" Calloway.
The Giants once had a kicker named John Carney, whose NFL career spanned 23 seasons. Most of them were spent with the San Diego Chargers, but he spent one season toward the end of his career kicking for the Giants.
If Carney made a field goal that would end the game, Berman would announce, “John Carney, Audrey Meadows, Sheila MacRae...GOOD NIGHT EVERYBODY!” This, of course, was a reference to The Jackie Gleason Show, a variety TV show that aired in the 1950s and 1960s, and it was the way Gleason would bring the show to a close.
The Carney tie-in, by the way, was with actor Art Carney, Gleason’s co-star both on his variety show and on The Honeymooners.
In the late 1980s and early 90s, the Giants had a receiver named Mark Ingram. (Younger football fans are more likely to be familiar with his son, the Heisman-winning running back formerly of the Saints and Ravens, Mark Ingram Jr.)
If you’ve ever wondered why Berman musically refers to both father and son as “Maaark Ingram,” throughout the 1960s and 1970s, when Berman was growing up in New York, there was a highly popular radio disk jockey named Dan Ingram.
A good number of baby boomers from the New York area listened to Ingram every afternoon on WABC. Frequently during his show, he would play a jingle in which the singers announced his name, “Daaan Ingram,” a melody that has since been used in commercials for Red Robin restaurants.
When I first heard Berman sing “Maaark Ingram,” I wondered why he used the Red Robin jingle. It wasn’t until I was learning about the history of Top-40 radio that I found out the true origin of the melodic chant.
On that note, “GOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY!”
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