There are a few nicknames and monikers that become so ingrained into the sport of football that they become inseparable from the game itself. The most famous is probably the concept of a “hail Mary” pass, which is now more often thought of and referred to as a football concept than the pious act itself. This relational transformation is known as ubiquity, and boy do sports love their ubiquity!
The concept of tying a memorable phrase to a sports figure or action is not new. Gladiators, including the famous animal fighter Carpophorus, were given nicknames that were meant to be both memorable and descriptive. “The King of the Beasts” was his title, and he triumphed in one match that pitted him against a bear, a lion and a leopard, all of which were released to attack him at once. Another time, he killed 20 separate animals in one battle, using only his bare hands as weapons. In the modern tongue, this dude was ‘legit.’
Nicknames can also cover multitudes of athletes. Fast-forward to more modern day examples and you have the Steelers’ Steel Curtain of the 1970s. This title is one that stuck because it does the perfect job of balancing known phraseology with descriptions of the force’s qualities. The nickname “Steel Curtain,” a play on the phrase “Iron Curtain” popularized by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, originated in a 1971 contest sponsored by Pittsburgh radio station WTAE to name the defense. It works so well because it blends the team’s character (steel, quite obviously, and being a tremendous, fearsome force like the Iron Curtain) with a memorable moniker. When a nickname works on this many levels, it sticks around. There’s the Monsters of the Midway, the Big Blue Wrecking Crew, and many others that stick because of that balance of name and on-field work.
The Seattle Seahawks’ incredible defense in 2011+ earned it the nickname ‘The Legion of Boom.’ Although specifically referring to the original group consisting of the main starters in the Seahawks secondary: Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner and Byron Maxwell, both the team and its fans are trying to keep the name around even after the stars departed. The name itself was coined in 2012 from a twitter contest suggested by radio personalities. The connection to the original Legion of Boom was pretty weak in 2017, but they found something marketable, and I can’t blame them for wanting to keep it going. Here in 2018, they are now firmly trying to convince us that the Legion of Boom was not a set of people, but rather whoever makes up the secondary in a given year. I wish their marketing staff luck in that endeavor, because only continued dominance will make that at all possible. Even the Steel Curtain got trimmed before long.
And now we find that the LA Chargers have their own nickname: The Jack Boys. This stems from their use of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who oversaw the reign of the Legion of Boom in Seattle. The Chargers certainly do have some incredible power and potential in their defensive ranks, including Casey Hayward, Jahleel Addae, and soon to be introducing Derwin James. This defense has power, it has hunger, and it has an identity- but where did Jack Boys come from?
According to ESPN,
“We’re called the Jack Boys,” Hayward said. “You know what they call Jack Boys? We try to go in there and be thieves, take the ball away. That’s why we’re called Jack Boys.”
The name was first brought up during a team meeting back in San Diego, and coined by teammate Adrian McDonald. It refers to the term Jack Boy, which Urban Dictionary defines as:
1)a person with many trades or abilities.
2)a person who is a thief, commits robberies.
It is also the name of a gang that was known for their car jacking, though some reports indicated that they only started their escapades in a Robin Hood-esque spree aimed at robbing drug dealers. Either way, they soon devolved into the same things they were theoretically rallying against. The leader received a grand prize of 15 life sentences, plus 290 years on top of that. With good behavior, he should be able to cut that in half.
In summary, the Chargers have all of the potential pieces in place to have a generational defensive force. The current name for this force is, apparently, the Jack Boys.
Without delving into the reasons for why this name could be confusing and is not, necessarily, the kind of title that invokes fear in an opponent, the big name defenses of the past have seen the most success by trusting their fans to come up with appropriate names. This defense seems to pride themselves on their ability to intercept footballs, which is a great thematic starting ground. We’ve got shadowy figures of all kinds to word play with, and we’ve got the full force of the internet to try and find a catchier name before the Jack Boys tries to catch on in anything but a sarcastic way.
So, let’s see what we have as far as things to pair with. We have references to electricity and charging, sure. We have Hollywood, movies, and the ocean. Okay, that’s material, too. There’s California, the West Coast, traffic, and that’s pretty much LA in a nutshell.
What we need is some sort of... grand theft motto.
Citizen Pain, Disarmageddon, Band of Smothers, no, now we’re too far into Hollywoodland. Maybe the lightning motif? Lightning and Plunder? Hmm.
Okay, I’ll be honest, I checked out once I hit Inglorious Grafters.
I need help— what names do YOU have?
-Jason “Puns of steel” Michaels