NEW YORK, NY – The sudden success of 49ers wunderkind quarterback Colin Kaepernick got me thinking of whether this automatically makes him the most famous sports star named Colin ever. Seeing as how he only has to beat out never-won-anything-of-note, universally despised Scottish duffer Colin Montgomerie, he probably is. It does make one wonder: What is the best first name in sports? Of course there is something to be said about originality. You don’t hear names like Wilt or Nolan or Pele or Elgin Gay Baylor and not know exactly who is being discussed. But still, when it comes to given names in athletics, there has to be one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. For instance, Colin Kaepernick’s Super Bowl quarterback counterpart is Joe Flacco, so let’s start there.
Joe. In football you’ve got guys like Montana and Namath and Mean Joe Greene, which is impressive. But you also have Joey Harrington, which is a major negative. Hockey has Joe Sakic, ninth on the all-time scoring list. Baseball has the one-two punch of Joe DiMaggio and Shoeless Joe Jackson, but then you also have to include disappointing Joses like Canseco and Jose Paniagua (that’s Joe Bread and Water to you). Two of the best boxing heavyweights ever, Joe Louis and Joe Frazier, help the cause. Basketball? Best I can come up with is Jo Jo White and perennial sleepwalker Joe Barry Carrol. Still, not a bad group.
Mike. When it comes to basketball, it doesn’t get much better than Michael Jordan. Same goes for Mike Schmidt and baseball. Hockey boasts guys like Mike Bossy and Mike Modano… meh. Football has big fellas like Singletary, Strahan, and Webster. Not bad, but by no means the best.
Jim. Brown, Palmer, and Clancy, for starters. Hey, how about Jim Thorpe? That’s not a bad one. After that it kinda thins out. Jim Rice? Jim Spanarkel? Let’s move on.
Tom. You start right off with Tom (I haven’t won a big game in years) Brady and Tom “Terrific” Seaver and you really think you have something going. But I can’t think of a single basketball player named Tom outside of Tom Chambers. Tom Landry is another football guy. You could even throw Tom Watson in there for golf, but that’s really not enough to beat out the List of Joes.
Pete. Charlie Hustle, Pete Rose, is a solid building block for Team Pete. Pistol Pete Maravich is another. Cam we include Pedro Martinez? Sure, why not? Placekicker Pete Gogolak gets thrown in for entertainment purposes only. This one’s done.
Jerry. You wouldn’t think this name would be a contender but when you start with the trio of Jerry Rice, Jerry West, and Jerry Koosman, you see reason for hope. Former Green Bay Packers guard Jerry Kramer comes to mind, but he’s not even in the Hall of Fame. And guys like Jerry Quarry and Jerry Stackhouse are just not getting it done.
This one really looks like it’s going to the Joes so… hey, wait a minute, let’s try one more.
George. Are you serious? George? Hmm, let’s see. George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Not bad having the greatest baseball player of all time. Who else? George Sisler, George Brett, George “The Stork” Theodore (just kidding). George Halas, George Martin, and George Blanda represent football pretty well. Same goes for George Foreman with boxing and non-stick grills. Basketball does pretty well with George Mikan, George McGinnis, and George “Ice Man” Gervin. Hockey has Georges Laraque, who was a pretty tough hombre and is now a high-ranking official in Canada’s Green Party (who knew?). Is this enough to beat out the Joes? It is when you throw in wrestling legends Gorgeous George and George “The Animal” Steele.
By George I think we’ve got it. The answer to, what’s the best first name in sports is, George. Tune in tomorrow for someone with a name like Cam or Lori or Bronko Nagurski.
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