Remembering Deacon Jones and sports' greatest nicknames

And then there was one.

With the death this week of Deacon Jones. Rosey Grier is the last living member of the Los Angeles Rams' defensive line of the 1960s that is the best remembered "Fearsome Foursome" in pro football. I say "best remembered" because there were prior "Fearsome Foursomes" in at least New York (the Giants), San Diego and Detroit. Even the Rams had a "New Fearsome Foursome" in the '70s that included Jack Youngblood.

But history has given the name to Jones, Grier, Merlin Olsen and Lamar Lundy, who were together as a starting unit from 1963 through 1966.

I will not try to add to all the commentary on Jones, including solid reflections in this newspaper by George Diaz and Mike Bianchi. Instead let's reflect other great sporting nicknames that that reside in their own Hall of Fame.

Yes, let's have a list.

There was no vote, so it is my list.

Top 10 Sports Group Nicknames

10. Four Horsemen. Long before the "Fearsome Foursome," in 1924, famed sportswriter Grantland Rice gave this nickname to Notre Dame's starting backfield. Of course the inspiration may belong to some forgotten Notre Dame publicist who put the four players on horses for a photo shoot.

9. Purple People Eaters. Minnesota's defensive line of the 1970s, including Alan Page and Carl Eller. Far as I remember, the only sports group named after a silly novelty song.

8. Steel Curtain. Pittsburgh defense of the 1970s and not the "Iron Curtain" that I mistakenly said on The Beat of Sports. (And I've got to start using names of something other than football defenses.)

7. Killer Bs. Starting in 1996 this was the name used by Houston's baseball team as long as they had at least three hitters with names that began with "B." Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio were among the best Bs.

6. Black Sox. The only famed negative nickname given to the 1919 Chicago White Sox because perhaps as many as eight took money from gamblers to blow the World Series. Shoeless Joe Jackson is best remembered even though it's disputed if he was guilty.

5. Phi Slamma Jamma. The 1983 Houston basketball team that included Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Cool.

4. Monsters of the Midway. The Chicago Bears of the 1940s that won four titles in seven years — including that 73-0 win over Washington. (Think about the bonanza for a fantasy team full of Bears back then. They were ahead of their time.)

3. Greatest Show on Turf. The Rams' offense from 1999 through 2001 including Super Bowl win in 2000. With Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce, I loved this team and this nickname.

2. Big Red Machine. The Cincinnati teams from 1970 through '73 that included Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Joe Morgan. Baseball's best nickname.

1. Hogs. Remember, this is my list and I loved these guys. Offensive line coach Joe Bugel gave the nickname to his linemen in 1982 and they helped Washington win three Super Bowls over the next decade.

This list easily could have been a top 20. Some names I reluctantly left out included Gashouse Gang, Harvey's Wall Bangers, Orange Crush, Murderer's Row and the Miami Dolphins' No Name Defense (but I couldn't remember their names). Have you got any better suggestions?

To trough or not to trough

Wrigley Field is getting a badly needed makeover. But in some of the original men's restrooms, one thing will not change: Troughs instead of one-man urinals. Not sure if ladies or some younger males even know what they look like. In a Chicago Tribune report, troughs are called "communal tinkle traps," if that helps. Far as I know, decaying Tinker Field still has one. A Cubs spokesman called them "nostalgic," which is one word you could use.

Back in the early 1970s, Cocoa Beach had a great nightclub known as Lee Caron's Carnival Club. It had a restroom with a gold-plated trough. And at about chest level there was a horizontal gold bar that was heated. At 2 a.m. there was something wonderful about hanging on to that bar. Show biz was great.

The readers write...

• "North Dakota has the most golf courses per capita. It also is considered the 'safest state' and has more road miles per capita." -- Bill G., Orlando/Kanai, Ark./Rugby, N.D. (How many golf courses is that, Bill? Four?)

• "In response to your comment, 'So if Dwight Howard jumps to Houston, do we all have to hate the Rockets next season?'" the answer is no. However, if Howard does jump to the Rockets, it won't take long before the most commonly heard words coming out of there will be: "Houston, we've got a problem." -- Brad J., Longwood. (Good one, Brad.)

• "Will you explain how great the Heat looked all season only to be struggling now?" -- Lois S., Oviedo. (No.)

These are the notes, folks

•Speaking of Pete Rose, 72, he has a booth at the Mirage in Las Vegas where he earns more than a million bucks a year signing autographs and peddling memorabilia. Said Rose to The Wall Street Journal: "Every three days, there's different people." Hey, Pete, if you really want to make money, come here where our entire population changes every three days.

•The International Journal of Sport Finance did a study of 60 NBA coaches and claims to have found that only 16 had a positive impact on the number of games won by their teams. If that's true, why pay them more than minimum wage?

Tracy Morgan will star in a TV pilot for a series about an unlikely war hero. Now that's good casting.

•You've got to love cable TV. We may soon have a cable channel for each decade of TV shows from the '60s to the '90s. Oh sure, nothing for the '50s despite "The Lone Ranger," "The Three Stooges Show," and "I Love Lucy."

•Three times during the baseball draft, Bud Selig referred to it as the "2000" draft. If Selig asked, A-Rod could probably give him something that would help with that.

•A guy was wearing a paper bag at an Angels game and was told to take it off. Maybe he was trying to criticize the Angels but maybe he just thinks he's really ugly.

•The Toronto Raptors are considering changing their name. Great idea. How about the Dallas Raptors?

•Question about "Game of Thrones": Has any show killed everybody in the cast? And how many divorced guys watched "the Red Wedding" episode and thought: "Reminds me of my first marriage."

•The flick "After Earth" was directed by M. Night Shyamalan and actually stars Will Smith's son while Will sits around and essentially does nothing. Raise your hand if you are surprised it's a bomb.

When Jerry talks about bombing, he knows of what he speaks. Check him out yourself from 9 a.m. 'til noon weekdays on The Beat of Sports, hosted by Marc Daniels on 740theGame radio. You also may send comments to osogreene@aol.com with a chance at being in the next Cheap Seats. How exciting is that? Have a great Sunday and start making your Dad's Day plans now.

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