There’s More To Our Beloved Sports Franchises’ Names Than We Think

Our colleague who went to prison got a lot of props, possibly survived, because he was really good at basketball. He’s probably still really good at basketball, but now he’s middle-aged, so body parts don’t go where the brain tells them to quite as adeptly, agilely, rapidly, or pain-freely as they did in his youth. Plus, when he plays now, he just thinks about club sandwiches and post-game drinks the whole time, so he’s somewhat of a liability. Which probably only makes him really good at basketball amongst other slightly hobbled, middle-aged, hungry, former intense competitor types.

But he still plays in various pick-up games and rec leagues. The rec leagues come with team-chosen names, most of which completely lack inspiration or marketability: Team names like “Dustin’s Group,” “Microsoft Building #A32,” or “Northeast Portland Players” not only show a complete lack of imagination and commitment to driving revenue (the most important part of sports), they are entirely deflating for the players. It goes like this: 

“Yeah, uh, hey guys, thanks for committing to this season and for the hard work you’re about to put in. Say, I had to fill out the form, so I just picked ‘The Red Hots’ ’cause I had to do it like real fast. Hope that’s okay.” 

“Yeah, great, thanks, Hal, you named us after a hot dog. Or maybe the sweet and spicy, deliciously unique cinnamon candy. And frankly, the only thing red hot on this team is our collective sciatica.” 

Any necromancer worth their salt knows a name means everything. That’s why magical, creepy beings like modern witches and sorcerers, ancient Egyptian gods, and regional tax authorities are constantly at work figuring out how to spy on us to learn our names or otherwise come up with some fairytale-styled, elaborate trick, so we accidentally give them up. That’s why this office requires all staff to use no less than two different names each day, alternating between name “A” and name “B” based on the odd or even hour, sequentially, in non- descending order, without ever using the same name twice in 27 months. For example, right now, our Accounts Payable Clerk goes by “Edgar Mumphenbock,” but in 22 minutes, he’ll change it to “RuPaulino Jones.” Originally he picked “Louis XIV,” but in our twice-daily name review meeting (which pushes two hours thanks to our bloated staff of 44, but it’s worth it, despite our recent bout of declining revenue), we gently reminded him names of historical figures are impermissible because witches can see right through that weak sauce. And secretly, the whole reason we do this in the first place is nether-worldly beings totally freak us out despite our cavalier attitude. 

So, in the interest of public safety, we reached out to four professional and one collegiate sports organizations to encourage the adoption of developing routines, practices, and various drills to thwart the evil intentions of those dark arts practitioners who reside in the Pacific Northwest, most of whom work as tattoo artists, baristas, librarians, or state legislators by day as cover, and all of whom undoubtedly inhabit low-ceilinged apartments with lots of candles, windows draped with bedsheets, and an overall musty/cannabis smell. But the outreach letters we sent are less important than understanding how these sports organizations’ names came about in the first place. Which, ironically, is the same process a warlock, sprite, or other evil being followed to gain power over somebody. Hopefully, they don’t have Internet access.    

Seattle Kraken – A Kraken is a mythical, mysterious, and mighty sea beast that no one here ever thought in a million years existed in our local waters. Ever. Its’ gigantic size and cephalopod-like appearance shows up in Scandinavian folklore (NOT Pacific Northwest folklore), specifically off the coasts of Norway and Greenland – where the beast loved to munch on lutefisk-engorged sailors. Many in our local scientific community pushed for the name “Seattle Cephalopods” and were all excited about it and started a pollical action committee and everything, but they were overruled for being nerds. Chosen in homage to Seattle’s maritime history, a Kraken’s overwhelming power, poor attitude, and won’t for eating people theoretically ties to the team’s inherent aggression. However, our Kraken’s current 10-win, 20-loss record says otherwise. 

Oregon Ducks – One of the most hilarious names in all of Division I college football; we swear in the ’80s, their helmet featured a logo of an actual cartoonish duck, but very lazy Internet searches say otherwise. We’ll work on that. The bottom line is the University of Oregon has gone by the name “Ducks” since WWII, although not officially since 1978, with some further reference to the name arriving in 1926, which is super confusing and obviously shows why this is a terrible school considering our research department went there. Bottom line: They were initially called the “Webfoots,” which slowly migrated to “The Webfoot Ducks,” then to “Christ can’t we just figure this out,” then ultimately shortened to “Ducks” by some girlfriendless sportswriter. The only thing interesting here is in 1947, the school’s athletic director Leo Harris made a handshake deal with his close friend and fellow party maniac Walt Disney, resulting in a Walt-drawn likeness of Donald Duck and permission to use it as the school’s mascot. And here we are. 

Portland Timbers – The current, steroid and PED-addled version of this MLS club is the fourth soccer franchise based in Portland to carry the legacy of this name, an homage to a trade absolutely no one in this city practices anymore. The original christening – in 1975 as part of the North American Soccer League – was the result of the absolutely worst idea possible: An open contest for submissions. Yet the name is no surprise, considering the owner at the time loved yelling out “TIMBERRRRR” because he hated trees, which is why he owned a timber company, and oddly enough insisted on mimicking the classic look of all lumberjacks despite being office-bound: Red and black flannel shirts, suspenders, and a robust beard. He even walked around his office building with an ax despite the protests of his Chief Counsel.  

But things worked out just fine, as the Timbers have won no less than four MLS Cups etc. etc. who cares. Admittedly we were rooting for them against New York City FC in the 2021 Cup Final, despite being Sounders fans, mainly because New York thinks they’re sooooooo cool and important. But know what? They’re not. 

Portland Thorns FC – No one knows why they’re called the Thorns. Okay, that’s not true. This fairly-newly founded women’s professional soccer club team name is supposed to invoke Portland’s nickname of the Rose City. We hoped there would be something in there about making their opponents bleed, but we’re in cognitive therapy for that. Everyone seems to think the Portland Thorns FC will be fine in terms of support, given the city seemingly doesn’t have its head up its…ah…is filled with people who favor equality, diversity, and inclusion. That being said, we’re glad US Soccer subsidizes the salaries of 24 Thorn players from the Women’s National Team. Such is the state of affairs in women’s pro sports.

Seattle Seahawks – Yet another outcome of the worst idea possible, this moniker came from a public contest that generated 20,000 submissions, 1,700 unique ideas, Olympia Beer bottles all over the parking lot after name-submission tailgating parties, and several half-smoked joints because it was 1975.

Supposedly, “seahawk” is another word for Osprey. Still, ornithologists point out they spell it “sea hawk” and never use the term to refer to one particular species, which is why ornithologists are never invited to our parties. What’s more scandalous is it’s illegal to use native Ospreys for commercial purposes, so the replacement raptor of choice for the team’s live mascot is a 10-year-old captive Augur hawk named Taima. Who frequently eats Lumen Field’s janitorial staff, which the team spends over $2.1 million annually to sweep under the rug. Which is part of the reason why tickets are so expensive. So that’s the gig. The details behind all of our names, including collegiate and professional sports teams, float around out there, free to be devoured by evildoing, monstrous phantoms, witches, warlocks, and Internet trolls. At that point, we’re at their mercy. Consider this generous public service announcement as inspiration to take steps toward self-protection. If coming up with two new names throughout the day sounds too hard, snap out of it, consider what happens if one of these beasts gets ahold of the soul, and come up with an individualized, lifestyle-fitting solution. We think our smart, ruggedly handsome, and/or stunning beautiful readership will do just fine.  

About Patrick McNerthney 51 Articles
Patrick McNerthney is a former President, Titan of Industry and general Society-Improver. He owns a business called Outcasting, which purportedly offers writing services, but is most likely a front for the illegal import and distribution of vacant hermit crab shells. Patrick aspires to own an NFL team and take over his block. He’s written four books: How to Break Out of Prison*, How to Cheat on Your Taxes*, How to Steal Your Neighbor’s Roof*, and The Future Will Not Involve Underwear**. *Not written yet **Not formatted or published yet