Remembering Deacon Jones and sports' greatest nicknames

And then there was one.

With the death this week of Deacon Jones. Rosey Grier is the last living member of the Los Angeles Rams' defensive line of the 1960s that is the best remembered "Fearsome Foursome" in pro football. I say "best remembered" because there were prior "Fearsome Foursomes" in at least New York (the Giants), San Diego and Detroit. Even the Rams had a "New Fearsome Foursome" in the '70s that included Jack Youngblood.

But history has given the name to Jones, Grier, Merlin Olsen and Lamar Lundy, who were together as a starting unit from 1963 through 1966.

I will not try to add to all the commentary on Jones, including solid reflections in this newspaper by George Diaz and Mike Bianchi. Instead let's reflect other great sporting nicknames that that reside in their own Hall of Fame.

Yes, let's have a list.

There was no vote, so it is my list.

Top 10 Sports Group Nicknames

10. Four Horsemen. Long before the "Fearsome Foursome," in 1924, famed sportswriter Grantland Rice gave this nickname to Notre Dame's starting backfield. Of course the inspiration may belong to some forgotten Notre Dame publicist who put the four players on horses for a photo shoot.

9. Purple People Eaters. Minnesota's defensive line of the 1970s, including Alan Page and Carl Eller. Far as I remember, the only sports group named after a silly novelty song.

8. Steel Curtain. Pittsburgh defense of the 1970s and not the "Iron Curtain" that I mistakenly said on The Beat of Sports. (And I've got to start using names of something other than football defenses.)

7. Killer Bs. Starting in 1996 this was the name used by Houston's baseball team as long as they had at least three hitters with names that began with "B." Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio were among the best Bs.

6. Black Sox. The only famed negative nickname given to the 1919 Chicago White Sox because perhaps as many as eight took money from gamblers to blow the World Series. Shoeless Joe Jackson is best remembered even though it's disputed if he was guilty.

5. Phi Slamma Jamma. The 1983 Houston basketball team that included Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Cool.

4. Monsters of the Midway. The Chicago Bears of the 1940s that won four titles in seven years — including that 73-0 win over Washington. (Think about the bonanza for a fantasy team full of Bears back then. They were ahead of their time.)

3. Greatest Show on Turf. The Rams' offense from 1999 through 2001 including Super Bowl win in 2000. With Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce, I loved this team and this nickname.

2. Big Red Machine. The Cincinnati teams from 1970 through '73 that included Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan. Baseball's best nickname.

1. Hogs. Remember, this is my list and I loved these guys. Offensive line coach Joe Bugel gave the nickname to his linemen in 1982 and they helped Washington win three Super Bowls over the next decade.

This list easily could have been a top 20. Some names I reluctantly left out included Gashouse Gang, Harvey's Wall Bangers, Orange Crush, Murderer's Row and the Miami Dolphins' No Name Defense (but I couldn't remember their names). Have you got any better suggestions?

To trough or not to trough

Wrigley Field is getting a badly needed makeover. But in some of the original men's restrooms, one thing will not change: Troughs instead of one-man urinals. Not sure if ladies or some younger males even know what they look like. In a Chicago Tribune report, troughs are called "communal tinkle traps," if that helps. Far as I know, decaying Tinker Field still has one. A Cubs spokesman called them "nostalgic," which is one word you could use.

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2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
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