Today, on the Monday after Mother’s Day and less than two weeks removed from the NFL draft, I introduce to you what I hope will become a long-running tradition here at Right Field: The Craphonso Ja’won Thorpe Awards for Excellence in Football Player Names. The award series’ namesake, Craphonso “Cro” Thorpe, is a former NFL wide receiver out of Florida State who did cups-of-coffee all over the league before stints in the CFL and UFL. But he is best known (to me and my friends at least) for having the greatest name of all time in a sport known for its great names. So in celebration of Craphonso’s mother, and the many football moms like her with the courage and foresight to fill out those birth certificates with an eye toward greatness, here are the honorees from the 2011 NFL draft class:
Best Overall Name: It was a draft full of promising football monikers from top to bottom, from Prince Amukamara (CB to the Giants at pick 19) to Lazarius Levingston (DL to Seahawks at pick 205), from Ras-I Dowling (DB, Pats #33) to Kealoha Pilares (WR, Panthers #132). But in the end it came down to two names: Quan Sturdivant (LB, Cardinals #171), and Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, Falcons, #145).
There are compelling cases for both men. Quan Sturdivant is a name straight out of the Cantina at Mos Eisly; Jacquizz Rodgers includes a ‘cq’ and the highly-coveted ‘double-z’ combination. Despite being just one character longer, Rodgers’ full moniker also beats the daylights out of Sturdivant’s in Scrabble scoring, bringing in a whopping 53 points to Quan’s 28. But then Rodgers’ only really brings it with his Christian first name (again, a tribute to Mrs. Rodgers), while Quan Sturdivant — that is, ‘Quan Sturdivant’ — brings it from the first syllable to the last. And frankly, Jacquizz really could’ve used an apostrophe. Therefore, I award the inaugural Craphonso to the 6′ 1″, 241-lb. UNC Tarheel. Congrats, Quan!
Honorable Mentions: Cheta Ozougwu (DL, Texans #254), Jerrel Jernigan (WR, Giants #83), and Jabaal Sheard (DL, Browns #37).
Best Team Achievement in Player Names: The Baltimore Ravens, who drafted Jah Reid at 85, Tandon Doss at 123, Chykie Brown at 164, and Pernell McPhee at 165.
Honorable Mention: The Oakland Raiders, who drafted Chimdi Chekwa at 113 and Taiwan Jones at 125.
Player Names Perfectly Suited to Their Job Description:
Tight End: tie between Luke Stocker and Daniel Hardy, both drafted by the Bucs.
Defensive Back: Buster Skrine, Browns #137
Offensive Line: Maurice Hurt, Redskins #127
Defensive Line: Karl Klug, Titans #142
Quarterback: Cam Newton. Yes, it’s an obvious choice, but it’s also a name that was born to play under center. (Honorable Mention to Blaine Gabbert).
The Tom Brady Award for Lameness in Football Player Names: James Thomas (LB, Bears #195).
The Quincy Carter Award for Presidential Namesakes: Andrew Jackson (OL, Falcons #210).
First Annual Player Name Hall of Fame Inductees:*
Individuals: Craphonso Thorpe (but of course), LaDanian Tomlinson, Captain Munnerlyn, Marques Tuiasosopo, MacKenzie Hoambreker, Takeo Spikes, Cadillac Williams, Bronco Nagurski.
Team: The 2008 New York Jets. Notable roster members: Kellen Clemens, Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, James Ihedigbo, Hank Poteat, Ty Law, Sione Pouha, Darrelle Revis, Chansi Stuckey, and last — but certainly not least — D’Brickashaw Ferguson.
Who am I missing, readers? Fellow NRniks? Leave your suggestions in the comment box.
*nominees must be current or former NFL players not drafted this year.