NFL Name Game

We delve into some similarily named NFL players.
Published November 05, 2018 | 5 min read

We got interesting responses to our launch of this feature, which focused on the peculiarity of two guys with similarly distinctive last names — Jonathan Lucroy and Matthew LeCroy — both being big-bodied, Southern-born major league catchers who played within three years of each other and had remarkably similar batting stats.

And that got us thinking about strange coincidences involving the names of NFL players.

Here are a few things we discovered:

This Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will feature an NFL first — an all Aaron backfield. The trio includes QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Aaron Jones and FB Aaron Ripkowski.

Last Sunday was another first: two starting quarterbacks named Carson — Carson Palmer and Carson Wentz — facing off when Palmer’s Cardinals took on Wentz’s Eagles. How unusual was that? More than 7,000 people have played a game in the NFL since its launch in 1922, but only seven had the first name “Carson.”

O.J. Simpson, who got out of jail Oct. 1, left quite a legacy, other than being one of the best running backs of all time and a presumptive double killer. Since Simpson first strapped on a helmet for the Buffalo Bills in 1969, six subsequent NFL players have had the same first name. One of them, O.J. Howard, is a promising tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But there’s never been a big-league O.J, though seven players with that name appeared in the minors, including two who predate The Juice: O.J. Dempsey (1923) and O.J. Farley (1924).

As far as we can tell, a game between the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins on Sept. 14 2014 featured a first-and-only juxtaposition: Jordan Cameron, the Browns starting tight end, was on the field at the same time as Saints starting defensive end Cameron Jordan.

Alas, these reverse-name doppelgangers never actually contacted each other during the game, won by Cleveland 26-24, or did much to help their teams, despite both being stars. Cameron didn’t catch a pass; Jordan made only two tackles.

Of all the current NFL offensive standouts, there are four guys with the first name Tyler. Three of them are tight ends, including teammates Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft, who have both started games for the Cincinnati Bengals. (The Rams’ Tyler Higbee is the third TE.) Only Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett doesn’t fit in. A second receiver, who started last year but warms the bench in 2017, is also a Bengal: Tyler Boyd.

There have been only two players in NFL history with the last name McCourty: Jason and Devin, who are identical twins and both play defensive back. According to this story, Jason once pranked Devin’s coach, Bill Belichick, during the Super Bowl. No word on whether stone-faced Bill cracked a smile. We’re putting the odds of that at almost zero.

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