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What’s In A XFL Team Name?

The XFL talent showcases have demonstrated the seriousness of the latest venture into spring professional football.

The league will have eight teams, but left unfinished amid the rapid pace of coaching hires is what each team will be called, along with their logos and color schemes.

Mark Nelson XFLBoard

According to the AP, the wait is almost over. As the NFL readies for training camps to begin (Denver Broncos begin July 17), the XFL will announce the names and logos for each franchise this month. The league will also begin signing players that weren’t invited to NFL camps or have already been cut such as Landry Jones and Hakeem Nicks. Some AAF players fall squarely into these groups and will have another shot at making a roster.

As reported by The Mark right here on XFLNewshub, the league has reserved several names for the Seattle franchise. I believe they’re lousy, but equally bad choices like “Wizards” and “Pelicans” have shown fans become desensitized and don’t give them a second thought.

It would be ironic if the Washington franchise named themselves “Redskins”, but Dan Snyder would unleash a torrent of lawsuits and the controversy would be devastating for a brand new league. If it comes down to the proposed five listed, “Force” would be the least bad.

My main peeve is naming pro teams after the state instead of the city. States are good for college, but the pros should use “Phoenix”, “Minneapolis”, “Nashville”, etc. The AAF got it right with “Salt Lake”, but blew it with “Arizona”.

“Golden State” (NBA) sounds like a Division III college. There was a period during new arena negotiations the team would have to be renamed the “Oakland Warriors” but no luck.

One MLB team rectified the mistake going from “Florida” to “Miami”, but foolishly dropped “Devil” from another (Tampa).

The most irritating of any league is the NFL’s “Carolina” which is a city or state that doesn’t even exist. Would “Charlotte” really be so terrible?

The Boston Patriots (est. 1960) opened a new stadium in Foxborough for the ’71 season after merging with the NFL and rebranded to the ambiguous New England name despite “moving” only 28 miles southwest of Boston. If any of the other local teams wind up in new venues 25-30 miles from Boston, should they be renamed the “New England Red Sox”, “New England Celtics” or “New England Bruins”? Not very catchy.

Team names should reflect power, strength, leadership, authority and intimidation. Nobody shudders when they hear “Texans” (lazy, lack of imagination), Dolphins (playful, friendly animal), “Packers” (insert dirty joke here) or “Brewers” (anyone scared of a beer?).

Silly names will leave teams open to mockery in a league that will struggle for recognition and legitimacy. Let’s hope reason prevails and we won’t have any “Dragons” to slay.

Do you think team names matter in the long run? Should pro teams be named after the city instead of the state or entire region of the country? Share your reactions and ideas in the comment section below.

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  1. sam

    July 12, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    definitely should be related to the city, not the state.

  2. Brett Morris Tierce

    July 12, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Arizona was one of the most popular names in The AAF. The team name meant something & the logo/uniform was pretty cool as well. Everybody has their own opinion I guess.


      July 13, 2019 at 11:30 pm

      I thought the Birmingham IRON was an excellent choice by the AAF. This related the iron and steel industry that helped build the city. Politics often can hinder a good team name. XFL1 initially named our team the BIRMINGHAM BLAST but had to change it almost immediately due to our history and specifically the 16th St church bombing 50 years ago. We became the THUNDERBOLTS, which worked..but c’mon man.

      • Johnny Lucas

        July 14, 2019 at 4:04 pm

        Hi Richard,

        Agree with the Iron’s name. Much like the Hotshots, the dual meaning of the local industry and the strong metal works well. The team was named after the city, so they got it right. Alabama works for the rabid college following. The city name is very distinguished for a pro team.

    • Johnny Lucas

      July 14, 2019 at 3:58 pm

      Hi Brett,

      I agree with the mascot. If you’ll notice in the article, naming the Phoenix AAF team after the state instead of the city was the objection. The Hotshots name is fine because of it’s dual meaning; one for confident, aggressiveness and the other paying homage to firefighters.

  3. Jerseyknight458

    July 13, 2019 at 9:48 am

    The Arizona Hot Shots was probably the best name in AAF it had a great backstory…..I wouldn’t mind seeing the LA Hot Shots just so the legacy of the name continue( I know that won’t happen).

    • Johnny Lucas

      July 14, 2019 at 4:06 pm


      The Hotshots name was fine, but naming them Phoenix Hotshots would have been a better choice.

  4. Benjamin Bennett

    July 13, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Couldn’t disagree with this opinion more. Team names, nicknames and mascots serve as a rallying cry and source of pride to all those affiliated with teams. Every time I hear some crazy idea, like “Team names should reflect power, strength, leadership, authority and intimidation. ” I think they’re really missing the point.

    Most people don’t realize that nicknames were created by the press in the early days of organized sports. The nicknames came from an either inspiring moment or a coined phrase that gained popularity over time. A great example are the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were just plainly the Pittsburgh Baseball Club until they pioneered the art of buying out another players contract to “steal” them from another team. Hence the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    The origins of the Crimson Tide first developed with Alabama’s first football teams. Dressed in crimson attire and described as malnourished, they were known as the Thin Red Line or the Crimsons. Two former writers are credited with the name evolution to Crimson Tide. Hugh Roberts, the sports editor for the Birmingham Age-Herald is said to have first used the nickname when he described Alabama’s efforts in a muddy 6-6 tie against Auburn in 1907. During a World War I experience, Zipp Newman noted how the “tide incessantly pounded on the seashore”; When he returned to cover Alabama Football he made the comparison of how the team was a “Crimson Tide” that continue to pound on their opponents. It was this 1919 description that many say was the catalyst for the name’s popularity.

    The point is that it’s a matter of pride and celebrating who you are, rather than trying to create a moniker for things you think are powerful, or things you aspire to. In the modern era we have the expectation for team names and may not have time to build a reputation for “grow” a name but the teams need names that the fans can identify with so they can “own” the team. A team name like the “Texans” coupled with their colors, logos is one of the most powerful images I can imagine for a way for the city of Houston to not only own their team but have it be an immediate part of the fabric of the community. Other good examples are the NY Mets (Metropolitans) Who took on Dodger Blue and Giants orange to pay homage to previous NY baseball legacy. Think of the transition from the Seattle Supersonics which represented a key part of the Seattle economy in Aviation to the Oklahoma City Thunder that embodies the expansiveness of the open skies of the midwestern plains.

    In this regards the AAF did a fairly good job of finding names that cities and communities could connect with a concept to adopt the team as their own. Unfortunately if the applications shown above are the direction the XFL is thinking for Seattle then the author and I have a similar opinion for different reasons. Not one of these names really embody a way for Seattle to connect to the team yet. They’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. Let their level and style of play or their business office can “steal” someone to give them something worthy of note to nickname.

    • Johnny Lucas

      July 14, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      Hi Benjamin,

      Your comment “The point is that it’s a matter of pride and celebrating who you are…” applies to any fan base regardless of the mascot. The Bears are not specific to Chicago nor Eagles to Philadelphia, but there’s no less team pride than any other location. A name unique to a city for it’s history is fine but does not mean it’s a good one for a sports team. As for “…trying to create a moniker for things you think are powerful, or things you aspire to”, why not have both?

      Having a silly, wimpy or nonsensical name (Cubs, Wizards, Pelicans, Penguins, Islanders, Canadians, Ducks) does not necessarily instill any pride or celebration. Fans can believe a mascot that represents strength, power, authority & intimidation is a “crazy idea”, but you’d be surprised prevailing opinion believes otherwise. It’s very subjective, so there isn’t a right or wrong answer, which was the point of the article.

      I agree local industries and historical references should be taken into consideration, but not as a must-have if the name is weak, embarrassing or illogical. The Salt Lake NBA franchise should have renamed the team after relocating from New Orleans. Car parts like Pistons has an intense, aggressive context, but many don’t know what a piston is or what it does.

      The Crimson Tide example conflated the dichotomy of college and professional teams and whether the team should be named after the city or state. Crimson is a strong red color (a potential reference for bloodshed in battle for those who enjoy that viewpoint), so it suits the team well. I also support the Supersonics name.

      I have to disagree the name Texans is a “powerful” image any more than the Miami Floridians, Detroit Michiganders, Los Angeles Californians, Cleveland Ohioans or Kansas City Missourians.

      The worst example is the Phillies; an abbreviation for Philadelphia, much like the A’s are short for the Athletics. The actual name is the Philadelphia Philadelphias. Ridiculous. This was common practice in the 1880’s that was wisely discarded. The nickname Phillies was used because the full name was hard to fit in newspaper headlines. We already know big cities are called metropolitan areas, so the New York name is also silly and unimaginative.

      In many cases, it’s easy to enjoy the best of both worlds. The Steelers, Rangers, Rockies (should be Denver), Seahawks and Timberwolves do nicely. For others, using predators like Grizzlies, Lions, Falcons or big strong herbivores like Bulls and Broncos are used by fans with pride even if they’re not specific to their town. If your team is named after a maple leaf, you may feel pride as well, while others may prefer to dump it.

      Eye of the beholder.

  5. Andrew Laidlaw

    July 14, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Name and logo “coolness” are 100% related to merchandise sales… a silly and and poor logo will doom sales.

  6. EmeraldSpecter

    July 14, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Dragons is the best option for Seattle of that list… the rest sound ridiculous.

  7. Benjamin Bennett

    July 15, 2019 at 2:02 pm


    I agree 100% that the naming of a team is subjective. You are on point to say that it’s possible to have pride in both celebrating who you are and inspire people with imagery of strength and power, as in the examples of the Steelers, Rangers and Rockies. In fact I might add that it’s even more than just the two points that we’ve surfaced. There are probably a large number of concepts that might make a successful name. And the process by which that develops might be an unpredictable alchemy of factors.

    As you mention, the Chicago Bears & Philadelphia Eagles are a great examples of that.

    The organization that eventually became the Chicago Bears, the Decatur Staleys, was originally conceived by the A. E. Staley food starch company of Decatur, Illinois… The Staleys moved to Chicago from Decatur, Illinois in 1921. In 1922, the new owner changed the team name to the Bears to reflect baseball’s Chicago Cubs, the team’s hosted at Wrigley Field.[6] (–1946))

    Today’s Chicago Cubs began as the White Stockings, a team name that lasted until 1889.  Based on the relative youth of the players, the team was next called the “Colts” (1890-1897).  When the club’s owner refused to renew manager Cap Anson’s contract in 1898, the leader-less ballplayers were dubbed the “Orphans” (1898-1901).  After a disastrous 1901 losing season (53-86), the manager Frank Selee began a huge rebuilding project, stocking the team with young players and rookies.  Hence the “Cubs.”

    The Philadelphia Eagles. Have a similar story the new owners renamed the team the Eagles in honor of the symbol of the National Recovery Act, which was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal

    And yet to your point, there are Chicago Bears & Philadelphia Eagles fans that know nothing about that history and who don’t care but identify with the Bears & Eagles name and team for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with that identity or history.

    The key is that the goal of the owner is to build a brand/franchise that fans in that market will connect with in order to come to the games and buy their merchandise. Winning and high level of play is the most important factor in building that connection, because everyone likes to be with a winner.

    Before a team has the chance to build that excitement everything else is including team name, mascots, logos, cheerleaders, promotions, etc. should serve to connect the fans in that market to the the brand/franchise/experience.
    The subjectivity comes in the developing storylines that connect with the people in that market. What seems silly to someone in one market may work very well in another.

    The Texans may not resonate with you, but for those who have ever lived in Texas, probably agree that Texas has a unique culture and history (trying to be its own country) that is a big part of what it means to live in Texas. (Everythings Bigger in Texas) The culture of Miami does not have that same power behind it. As an LA resident myself, I would indeed laugh at the idea of the Los Angeles Californians, but the Angelenos, which is effectively the same thing only in Spanish has a different ring and pride to it given the make up of our city that we take pride in that others do not.

    Your example of the Utah Jazz is a great example of that alchemy of factors over time.
    While Utah is a gorgeous state and has a lot of great music, there is nothing particularly Jazzy about it. I don’t know why they didn’t change it and it still bugs me a bit. However, the Jazz in the 80’s and 90’s had a team logo that featured a snow-capped mountain imposed in the middle of the the words Jazz to better connect people to the Utah mountains. As time has gone on and several successful years have built a followed because of the quality play and pride for the team, people care less about the ephemeral and just enjoy the team for entertainment so now the team name has a strong connection with people in that market and their logo has followed the retro-trend.

    The Los Angeles Lakers have a similar story, having moved from Minnesota (The land of 10,000 Lakes) . “Lakers” is a common team name in the Areas of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. But because of the winning tradition that Lakers had developed the team owners

    Eye of the Beholder, spot on. I guess my question is still who is the beholder and are the Seattle Fury, going to show just how Furious they are if they go 1-8 for several seasons.

  8. Brian

    July 27, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    Los Angeles Firebirds. That would be my choice

  9. Jim

    July 30, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Washington should be called Stars & Stripes. A patriotic name would be wise for the capital city.

  10. Thomas Joseph

    August 13, 2019 at 10:50 am

    Definitely, use the city. Team names are huge for affiliation and merchandising. I like alliteration but not a must. XFL should go “radical” (Brigands might be too eclectic) or exotic like MiLB. Orlando Rage and Memphis Maniacswere great the last time and the logos were cool. What about some melded names like MadDogs, TurfPunks, or LunaTix. Cyborgs or MindMelders could capture sci-fi imaginations.

  11. Richard

    August 20, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    I think it’s important that team nicknames have some connection to the community they find themselves in. That’s what makes the Packers great as well. You have a point about the city specific vs. state specific names, but the Hotshots as a nickname was phenomenal, and the team’s overall design was great too. Still one of my favorite modern football jerseys. Personally, I’m really hoping for some reptilian or invertebrate (tarantula, spider, etc.) themed teams, but that’s more because I’m a huge nerd.

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