The top ten: American footballers' names


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The Independent Online

Each year the National Football League holds  a three-day ceremony called "the draft", in which American football teams choose new players from the training grounds of college. This year's draft  was once again  a window on the mostly black American working-class tradition of invented first names, often with French influences, apostrophes and variant spellings.

1. Barkevious Mingo Drafted by the Cleveland Browns, his brothers are Hugh and Hughtavious. With thanks to  Mark Henderson for this one.

2. Tyrann Mathieu Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Nicknamed “Honey Badger”. (No,  I don’t know either.)

3. D’Brickashaw Ferguson Drafted  seven years ago by the New York Jets. Named after Father Ralph de Bricassart, a character  in 1980s TV mini-series The Thorn Birds.

4. Antwaan Randle El The former Pittsburgh Steeler is retired now,  but he was an outstanding player with an equally outstanding name.

5. Chad Ochocinco Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, Chad changed his name from Johnson to the Spanish for 8-5, the number on his shirt, in 2008.

6. BenJarvus  Green-Ellis Now with the Cincinnati Bengals, he was nicknamed “The Law Firm” by his former teammates at the New England Patriots.

7. Adoree’ Jackson, This top college prospect from  Serra High has an apostrophe to test the most exacting pedant.

8. D’Ronzjiah Mathews He’s still in high school, at South Fort Myers in Florida; can’t wait for him to join the NFL.

9. Lousaka Polite  Ex-Atlanta Falcon and Miami Dolphin, now an unsigned free agent, this fullback is nothing if not… well, you know the rest.

10. Plaxico Burress The former Pittsburgh Steeler stand-out served time after shooting himself in the leg with an unlicensed gun. As for his name, as my colleague Robert Epstein says, “just because”

Next week: The Top  10 books people buy  but don’t read. Send  your suggestions,  and ideas for future  Top 10s, to