I want to preface this blog by confessing that I don’t give a rat’s tail, let alone an entire rat’s ass, about football. First, football is super violent, so right there I’m not a fan. Second, even though many would argue that competition is the cornerstone of a well-functioning capitalistic society, I hate watching sports competitions because I don’t like to see how sad one of the teams is when they lose. This sentiment is especially true for ultimate showdowns like the Super Bowl, where one of the teams that worked so hard to make it to the final game will eventually have to feel the deep sting of the jaws of defeat. And finally, I think football is just plain boring. All that said, football is the most popular sport in the United States, and I’m sure there are many parents out there who would love to name their child in honor of their favorite football team or player.
This Sunday, Super Bowl LIII pits the Los Angeles Rams against the New England Patriots. (And yes, I had to look that information up online because, again, I’m all out of rodent posteriors to dole out when it comes to football.) And while even the best sports analysts cannot say for sure which team will win Super Bowl LIII, I am about to reveal whether it was the Patriots or the Rams who won the coveted title of Baby Name Bowl 2019 champion by inspiring the best, most unique baby names. Let me tell you, folks; it was a close game indeed, so get ready to take up residence at 1 Edge-of-Your-Seat Drive.
Also, before we begin the competition, I’d like to extend a hearty thank you to my football-loving brothers, John Gundling and Alex Gundling, for helping me with players’ name pronunciations. Your help with this endeavor almost makes up for all the times each of you tried to talk to me about football’s even more boring off-shoot, fantasy football. But only almost. And I’m grateful for this handy list of Rams and Patriots Starters, Specialists, and Key Reserves from CBS Sports.com for providing an easy way for me to find out who is playing in Super Bowl LIII.
[The Patriots started the first quarter strong, taking a decisive lead over the Rams.]
Tanzel—inspired by Tanzel Smart. I love, love, LOVE this name as pronounced in Smart’s case (Tan-zell). It’s like Denzel (also an amazing name) but with a fun and funky twist. I also like this name because I’m a fan of gender-neutral possibilities, and I think this name could work well for a boy or girl. Possible nicknames: Tan, Anz, Anzel, and Zel / Zell. Or, if you are looking for a unique alternative to the Germanic name Hansel, you could change the pronunciation slightly to that end (Tan-suhl).
Blythe—inspired by Austin Blythe. The correct pronunciation for this player’s last name sounds like the word “blight” to me, which obviously is not a good connotation. However, if you pronounce it instead like the last name of Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables, then I’m a huge fan. And, as a bonus, that pronunciation would make this the perfect name for someone who both loves football and adores Anne of Green Gables (in other words, no one). Blythe, though not in the top 1,000 just yet, is gaining steam as a name for both boys and girls. Possible nicknames include Bly, Ly, and Lythe.
Deatrich—inspired by Deatrich Wise, Jr. This name is great for those who love both old-timey movies and football, though there’s probably not a ton of overlap between those two fandoms either. Possible nicknames: Dea, Deat, Eatric, and Trich / Trick. I like the Dea or Dee nickname for boys or girls and the Trich / Trick nickname for boys.
Duron—inspired by Duron Harmon. At first, I guessed that this name was pronounced as it is spelled (Du-ron), and I was not loving it, since it reminded me of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, and I don’t think anyone wants to name their kid after a big, freaky, evil tower-eye entity. But the actual pronunciation (Duh-ron) definitely won me over. Normally, even with short names, I’ve got at least one nickname idea, but I feel like Duron is perfect as is for a little boy’s name.
Edelman—inspired by Julian Edelman (pronounced Ed-uhl-min). Though I’m not quite as into this name as some of the others on this list, I do like that Edelman can be gender neutral and presents a lot of great nickname options, such as Edel, Del / Dell (or Della for a girl), Elm, and Elman. And, in case your child hates having this unique name, they can always fall back on the super-boring nickname Ed. You don’t have to call them that, of course—parent’s prerogative.
Elandon—inspired by Elandon Roberts. Originally, I assumed the pronunciation of this name was E-lon-don, and I therefore figured this would be the right name for those who secretly wish their child was actually a Lord of the Rings character or a dinosaur. But my brothers (and Roberts himself, pronouncing his own name in a video) corrected my incorrect assumption; this name is actually pronounced E-lan-din, which to me is a more sophisticated and more interesting version of the overused but still reasonably cool gender-neutral name Landon. Possible nicknames: Elan, Landon, Ando, Andon, or Lando.
Keionta—inspired by Keionta Davis. Another gorgeous name, Keionta (pronounced Key-on-tay) would actually make a terrific name for a boy or a girl. Possible nicknames include Kei (pronounced Key or Kai), Eion (pronounced Eon), Ion (pronounced Eye-on), or Onta (pronounced On-tay, rhymes with Dante).
Final Score @ the end of the First Quarter: Patriots 5 vs. Rams 2
[In the second quarter, the Rams capitalized on the Patriots’ flagging energy, gaining several points for a marginal lead.]
Ndamukong—inspired by Ndamukong Suh. Undoubtedly the most unique name on this list, Ndamukong, pronounced En-dom-ah-ken is especially interesting for its meaning: “house of spears” (Baby Name Wizard). So, if physical or emotional strength is something you feel is especially important to foster in your little one, or if you’d like your child to grow up to value protecting others, this name might be right for you. Possible nicknames include Endo, Dom, Muko (pronounced Mah-kah or Moo-ko), Khan, and Kong.
Zuerlein—inspired by Greg Zurlein. While some may find Zurlein (pronounced Zur-line) a bit questionable for its similarity to the German word Fraulein (meaning miss or unmarried woman), unique baby name hunters are always obsessed with names that start with Z, so perhaps this name could work for some people. I’m honestly not as in love with this name as many others on the list, but I can imagine how this name might be alluring for others as a baby boy’s name. Possible nicknames include Zeur and Erl / Earl.
Reynolds—inspired by Josh Reynolds. Pronounced Ren-uhlds, this is another name that is great because it works for a boy or a girl and has lots of cool nickname possibilities. For a girl, I like the nicknames Rey / Rae or Ren / Wren. For a boy, possible nicknames are Rey / Ray or Nold / Noldy.
Nickell—inspired by Nickell Robey-Coleman. I initially thought this name was pronounced like the coin, and even then I thought the second “l” at the end really elevated this name. But my brothers both confirmed the name is really pronounced Nigh-Kell, which I love even better; it has a very lyrical cadence. And I also like the possible alternative spellings Nykell or Ny’kell. Possible nicknames include Ni / Ny (pronounced Nigh), Nike (rhymes with Mike), Nick, or Kell.
Saffold—inspired by Rodger Saffold. Though taken from the last name of a bulky dude, I really like Saffold as a girl’s name option, mostly because Saffo (a sweet alternative spelling of Sappho) would be an adorable nickname.
Talib—inspired by Aqib Talib. First, I want to throw a shout out to the parents of Aqib Talib for their genius in rhyming their son’s first and last name without having it come off as hokey or Dr. Seuss-like. Kudos. Second, as a first name, I find Talib (pronounced Tuh-leeb) attractive because it is succinct and somehow whimsical. Possible nicknames include Tull, Tal (rhymes with Hal), Li / Lee, or (for a girl) Leeby or Libby.
JoJo—inspired by JoJo Natson. Much like rhyming first and last names, repeating names are hard to pull off without sounding corny or gimmicky, but—for some unknown reason—I really like JoJo. Maybe it is because my mom’s middle name is Jo, so I have a fondness for that name and therefore don’t mind hearing it twice in a row. Or maybe it is because I really like the girl’s name Josephine (Dawson’s Creek lover over here!), and JoJo would be a cute nickname for that. Regardless, JoJo works well as a boy’s or girl’s name and would also be a great pick for anyone who loves the 90s R&B duo K-Ci and JoJo. This name might also be the choice of the day if you let your four-year-old little girl choose her younger sibling’s name, given the extreme popularity these days of the obnoxious yet wholesome kids’ singer, JoJo Siwa.
LaAdrian—inspired by LaAdrian Waddle. First, I like LaAdrian (pronounced Luh-Ay-drian) because Adrian is a gender-neutral name, so LaAdrian also works well for boys or girls. Second, I’m a big fan of names without a space but with two capital letters somewhere in the name. This trend can even make pedestrian names kind of cool, like MaryAnne or KateLynn. Possible nicknames include LaAdri, Adrian, Dree, and Rian (pronounced Ryan or Ree-anne).
Karras—inspired by Ted Karras. Pronounced Care-iss, I actually like this name option for a girl. It’s like a cool combo of the well-trod name Carrie / Karrie and the currently trendy name of the protagonist from The Hunger Games, Katniss. Possible nicknames: Carrie, Air, or Riss.
Grigsby—inspired by Nicholas Grigsby. To me, this name sounds super English, so it would be a perfect pick for all the Anglophiles out there. Another convenient benefit of the gender-neutral name Grigsby is that your child can also double as your butler. Possible nicknames: Grig (or Greg), Rig, Igsby, or Bee.
Final Score @ the end of the Second Quarter: Patriots 8 vs. Rams 9
[After an exciting, back-and-forth quarter, the Patriots regain a slight lead.]
Whitworth—inspired by Andrew Whitworth. Many people are now using the last names of famous writers (especially poets) as first names, such as Tennyson or Byron. Since I was an English major in college, I’m totally down with that trend. Along those same lines, Whitworth invokes both Walt Whitman and William Wordsworth; since I really like both those poets, I love this unconventional name for a little boy. (Additionally, I think a hybrid poetry style of Whitman and Wordsworth would be really neat, so hopefully your child will invent that writing style combination if you name him Whitworth.) Possible nicknames: Whit, Twor (rhymes with Thor), or Earth (like the ending sound in this name, but I like this spelling better than Orth).
Ebukam—inspired by Samson Ebukam. I would argue this name is the second most unique name on this list, after the aforementioned Ndamukong. Pronounced Uh-boo-kum, I like the staccato sound of this gender-neutral name. Possible nicknames include Ebu (pronounced Uh-boo or Eee-boo), Uka (pronounced Ooo-ka), or Kam (pronounced like Cam in Camden or Cameron).
Robey—inspired by Nickell Robey-Coleman. In addition to donating his first name as a formidable team member for Baby Name Bowl 2019, Nickell Robey-Coleman also contributes Robey (pronounced Ro-bee) as a cute alternative to the much more common boy’s name Robby. This name could potentially work well for a boy or a girl. And, as with the nickname Ed for Edelman (above), if your kid is all about fitting in with the crowd, he or she could always go by the extremely-common nickname Rob. Or, if your kid likes the uniqueness of being named Robey but still wants a nickname, you could go with Ro / Roe, Obe / Obi (like Obi-wan Kenobi from Star Wars), or Bey / Bae. Or, if your child has trouble listening, you could call him or her Obey for short so you can reiterate a command for them to listen every time you say their name. (I kid, I kid.)
Sony—inspired by Sony Michel. While this name is unique, I’m feeling a bit lukewarm about it. On the one hand, if I could disassociate this name from the electronics brand, then I could admit that this is a short, cute name. On the other hand, I unfortunately can’t stop thinking about TVs and stereos (yes, stereos—I’m old, okay?) when I hear this name. So, if you are the kind of person who would also name your kid Electronica or Magnavox (actually, I’m kind of liking that last one…), then maybe the boy’s name Sony could work for you.
Shaq—inspired by Shaq Mason. I was a little surprised that Shaq (pronounced Shack) has never been in the top 1,000 names in the U.S., but I didn’t check the longer / more formal version of the name (Shaquille), so maybe that name is in the top 1,000. In any case, I like Shaq because it is a nice, single-syllable name with an air of coolness about it. The only downside is that there are no obvious nicknames. Then again, the lack of nicknames could be an upside; for those who are like my Aunt Sally and don’t like nicknames at all, for any name, Shaq could be a nice choice.
Dont’a—inspired by Dont’a Hightower. Before discussing this name, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate how badass the entire name Dont’a Hightower is. This guy sounds like he should be a superhero instead of a football player. But back to the point at hand, Dont’a is a unique version of the extremely-popular boy’s name Dante, which peaked in the U.S. in 1997 (#200) and is still fairly common at #318 as of 2017 (Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names). Possible nicknames include Don and T’a / Tay for boys and Dawn, Donna, T’a / Tae, or Taya for girls.
McCourty—inspired by Devin and Jason McCourty. Twins Devin and Jason McCourty (ESPN.com) co-donate their last name (pronounced Mick-cort-ee) as a possible first name for a boy or girl. As with LaAdrian (above), I like this name for the no-space, double-capital aspect. But I’ve noticed that, while last names as first names has been a huge part of the unique baby name boom of the last 10-20 years, last names starting with Mc have not often been included in the last-name-as-first-name trend, and I think they should be. Possible nicknames for McCourty include Mick, Mic / Mike, Court / Cort, Tee, or Ty (pronounced like tie in necktie).
Harmon—inspired by Duron Harmon. Like several other players in Baby Name Bowl 2019, Duron Harmon is a very valuable player for contributing both his first and last name to the game. One of my all-time favorite baby girl names is Harmony, so I love Harmon because I feel like it is the male version of Harmony. It also has an elegant sound along the lines of lovely sounding (if antiquated) names like Harlan. I can’t think of any nicknames for this one either, though.
Final Score @ the end of the Third Quarter: Patriots 13 vs. Rams 12
[In the exciting final quarter of Baby Name Bowl 2019…keep reading to find out what happened!]
Aqib—inspired by Aqib Talib. Aqib (pronounced Uh-keeb) joins many other names on this list as a nice choice for its brevity and striking sound. And, as one of my own nicknames in high school was Keeb (because of my pointy ears), I like the possible nickname Qib (with the same Keeb sound but a cooler spelling).
Joyner—inspired by Lamarcus Joyner. Another naming trend I like a lot is taking existing and more common names and adding something onto them to make a longer and more unique name. (Examples: Maxton or Kateliss.) Joyner is in that family of names, so I enjoy this option at lot. I would most like this name for a girl, and then the more common name Joy can be a nickname, if desired.
Natson—inspired by JoJo Natson. While my favorite contribution from this player is his first name (discussed above), Natson joins a well-regarded set of boys’ and girls’ names ending in –on, by far one of the most popular trends when it comes to picking or creating unusual baby names. Also, I really love Nat as a nickname.
Mannion—inspired by Sean Mannion. Pronounced Man-yin, this is yet another name ending in –on and is thus a name likely to be popular with many baby name enthusiasts. This name could work well for a boy or a girl, with possible boys’ nicknames Manni / Manny, girls’ nicknames Ann or Anni, and gender-neutral nicknames Yin or Ion.
Lamarcus—inspired by Lamarcus Joyner. While I would like this name much better if it followed the two capital letters in a single name trend discussed above (LaMarcus), this name has…..wait a minute…the referee has just thrown a penalty flag. According to the rules of Baby Name Bowl 2019, as set out in the TBNB charter in January 2019, no names that have been in the U.S. top 1,000 between 1900 and the present can appear on this blog (including during Baby Name Bowls). The referees have confirmed that Lamarcus was in the top 900s from 1982 to 1984. Therefore, Lamarcus is ejected from the game!!! What a stroke of bad luck for the Rams. In a game this tight, this is quite a blow! This ejection puts the Rams ahead by only three points as we see what the Patriots have got in this final quarter.
Cordarrelle—inspired by Cordarrelle Patterson. Cordarrelle is tied with Tazel for Most Valuable Name (MVN)—i.e. my favorite name—of Baby Name Bowl 2019. Whether pronounced as in the case of Patterson (Core-daryl) or more like Corduroy (Cor-duh-rell), this name is just plain awesome. I can’t even say why—I just love it! Possible nicknames include Core, Cordy, Darrelle / Daryl, Drell, and Rell.
Develin—inspired by James Develin. It’s easy to be down on the name Develin (pronounced Dev-a-lin), as are most of the people on the name boards and sites I frequent. Yes, this name invokes the Devil, and I suspect the Devil tops even Hitler in the Western imagination for the most scary, evil entity imaginable. But, let’s face it: all kids are at least partially little “devils,” so it’s not like the name would be completely off base, am I right? To be more serious, though, I like the sound of Develin because it is a longer, more fluid version of the gender-neutral name Devin / Devon, another name I like pretty well.
Cannon—inspired by Marcus Cannon. Well, everyone, it looks like Baby Name Bowl 2019 is going into overtime, as this final name from the Patriots ties the game up 16 to 16. Despite this name’s militaristic association, it is a promising baby name option because it joins Duron, Elandon, Harmon, Natson, and Mannion as yet another potential baby name ending in –on. While this name…hold on folks! The referees have issued another penalty flag. What’s going on here? Oh no! The boy’s name Cannon has been in the top 1,000 every year since 2003. Cannon is ejected from the game! I repeat, Cannon is ejected from the game!!!!!
The Rams win Baby Name Bowl 2019! The Rams wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!!!!!!!!!
Final Score: Patriots 15 vs. Rams 16