Professional sports is one of the last great havens of nicknamedom, something about a bunch of dudes sharing a locker room that generates them at an unequalled rate. And while most are pedestrian, the old first-letter-of-the-first-name-and-part-of-the-last-name trend that’s grown too large and so stale of late, some are simply phenomenal: “Sweetness”; “The Big Unit”; “The Human Highlight Reel”. Unfortunately for certain unlucky players, pro sports also has a habit of producing some of the worst monikers you could ever be saddled with. Like these ones:
1. Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd
Remember that you read “Dennis” before you read “Oil Can” as that could really pay off for you in bar trivia one day. Honestly, few people know “Oil Can” as anything but “Oil Can,” which is a hell of thing to be known as.
Apparently in Mississippi, where Dennis is from, beer is called “oil” and Dennis enjoyed the odd oat soda on occasion. But most baseball fans never knew that and had to wonder what may have happened with an oil can in Dennis’ past to land him the name. If his friends had really wanted us fans to understand how much Dennis enjoyed his brews, they should’ve named him “Beer Can” Boyd. Which, incidentally, also has a nice ring to it. Almost as memorable.
2. Elbert “Ickey” Woods
What’s so “ickey” about Elbert, anyway? It had to be something right, some disgusting, repugnant shit? I mean his teammates share a locker room with him, buses and planes and hotel rooms, they’d know if anyone would, and I’m taking there word for it. If they say he’s ickey, he’s Ickey. And while I’m not certain Ickey got his name from being ickey, I do know that the shuffle ensured he would never live it down.
Back in the late-’80s, when Ickey was scoring TDs and doing the Ickey shuffle after each one, there was Ickey everything: Ickey songs, Ickey shirts, even an Ickey Milk Shake. Mmmm, how good does an Ickey Milk Shake sound?
3. Lester “The Molester” Hayes
Was there something going on in that locker room? A troubled past? Did the cheerleaders give it to him? Or was just part of the Raiders misfit mystique? I mean how do you wind up with a nickname like this?
In Hayes’ case he came from the opposition not this teammates, for the clutching and grabbing of his bump-and-run cover style (read: Molesting) and because he famously put Stickum on his hands to improve his grip, which the NFL then had to outlaw. But still feels like this one wouldn’t fly these days when football’s trying it’s hardest to distance itself from molesters.
It’s also one I wouldn’t want to have to try to explain today, were I Hayes.
4. Rod “He Hate Me” Smart
First off, Rod already has a nickname, it’s Rod (his real name is Torrold), but he made this one up anyway. Why would he do that? Because he was one of the poster-boys for Vince McMahon’s XFL, a league with no fair catch rule where the players had nicknames on their jerseys instead of their names, and thus were in need of nicknames.
The fact that the name Smart selected was originally meant to be “They Hate Me” but got cut down because it didn’t fit on the uniform says pretty much everything that needs to be said about this nickname and that short-lived league.
It’s called forethought fellows, look it up.
5. Guy “The Flower” LaFleur
Not only is this nickname not the least bit creative (for our non-French-speaking friends, it’s a literally translation of his last name) it’s also not tough, not tough at all. Have flowers ever instilled fear in anyone? It seems hard to believe that you could survive in the NHL with a nickname like that. And in the ‘70s no less! Era of line fights, the Broad Street bullies and the bench-clearing brawl. But when you consider some of his teammates included “The Roadrunner” and “Big Bird” you start to realize something: Canadians have no business nicknaming anybody.