(STACKER) – There are no National Football League teams in the merry old land of Oz, but there are Lions, Bengals, and Bears. The NFL has 32 teams—each with a unique story about how it came to be. Some names were chosen by fan contests, while others had ties to former professional sports teams. There is an abundance of animal names, and other monikers steeped in a rich history. Others, like the Washington Redskins (rebranded in February 2022 as the Washington Commanders) and Kansas City Chiefs, have drawn controversy and protests for years.

For 100 years, the Arizona Cardinals kept the same nickname, as the team moved from Chicago to St. Louis for the 1960-1961 season, then to Arizona in 1988. That’s where the Cardinals remain today. As the NFL got older, relocation became a common occurrence—but we will explain the intricacies of how franchises in Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Baltimore are all intertwined (and even how the Baltimore Ravens attempted to buy the Indianapolis Colts’ name, despite having no previous ties to the franchise).

Stacker delved into the story behind every NFL football team name. Overall team records, also included, are reflective of NFL regular-season games. There are some football teams with well-known nicknames—the Jets, for instance, are often referred to as Gang Green—but we also divulge how some teams’ official names are used sparingly. The Jets’ neighbors, the Giants, are often called the New York Football Giants, to distinguish them from a baseball franchise that has long since moved to San Francisco. Sometimes a team name can tell you a lot about local history: The Vikings of Minnesota draw upon the area’s strong ties to Scandinavia, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dripping in local legend related to Florida’s pirate past.

Let’s kick off the countdown with the folks who earned their nickname by buying boxes of used team jerseys.

Arizona Cardinals

Despite locations in three cities, the Cardinals have kept the same name for almost 100 years. The team initially bought used football jerseys from the University of Chicago, garments that faded over time. Chris O’Brien, the team’s founder, named the new shade “Cardinal red.”

Atlanta Falcons

In the 1960s, the American Football League and NFL were interested in adding a team in Atlanta. Before the NFL introduced the franchise in 1966, a naming contest was held, and Julia Elliott, a local teacher, chose the name “Falcons” because “the falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight. It never drops its prey. It is deadly, and has a great sporting tradition.”

Baltimore Ravens

Shortly after Art Modell moved his football team in Cleveland to Baltimore, panel discussions, focus groups, and fan polls were held to come up with a new name. Ravens, which draws upon a famous Edgar Allan Poe poem, was a consistent choice. Poe lived and died in Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills

A Buffalo football club in the All-America Football Conference was named the Bisons, but in 1947, a renaming contest was held. The name Bills was chosen after Buffalo Bill Cody, and 13 years later, when Buffalo placed a team in the AFL, Buffalo Bills was kept intact. 

Carolina Panthers

The Richardson family, who originally owned the Panthers, came up with the team’s name before their 1995 debut. They chose black, blue, and silver as the colors to create synergy with the name.

Chicago Bears

The Bears have been with the NFL since its start–even though they were originally called the much less fearsome nickname of the Staleys. According to the franchise, the team’s name switched to the Bears on Jan. 28, 1922. A.E. Staley, the franchise’s former owner, transferred the team to George Halas in 1921, with a promise to keep the name as Staleys for one year.

Cincinnati Bengals

At first, the new AFL team in Cincinnati considered calling themselves the “Buckeyes,” but the name’s strong ties to Ohio State University canceled that idea. Paul Brown, an investor in the team, thought Bengals was a fitting nod to former football teams from the Cincinnati area.

Cleveland Browns

Before the birth of the Browns, a contest was held to name the new team. A favored suggestion was the Browns, after Paul Brown, who was already revered in the state of Ohio. It took some convincing, but Brown finally relented and allowed the franchise to use the Browns name.

Dallas Cowboys

The name came to be after the Cowboys were originally going to be called the Rangers. But the existence of a major league baseball team in Arlington, Texas with the same name led to a change, to avoid confusion.

Denver Broncos

After a new AFL franchise was awarded to Denver, the city held a contest to name the new club. The name Broncos was selected as the winner, which was also the name of a Colorado baseball team decades earlier.

Detroit Lions

According to the book “The Man Who Built the National Football League: Joe F. Carr,” Detroit’s NFL team came to be known as the Lions as a counterpart to the existing baseball team in the city, the Tigers. A team spokesman later said, “The lion is monarch of the jungle and we hope to be the monarch of the league.” 

Green Bay Packers

Green Bay’s football team was sponsored by local packing companies; hence, the name Packers. Locals also often refer to themselves as “cheeseheads” for wearing foam cheese hats to games at Lambeau Field.

Houston Texans

Houston’s expansion football franchise conducted months of research into devising a team name. Five candidates were considered—Apollos, Bobcats, Stallions, Texans, and Wildcatters. Texans was selected as the winner, with a live ceremony on ESPN2

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts, like many sports teams, were named thanks to a fan contest. The team eventually moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis, but when football returned to Baltimore in 1996, the team that would eventually become the Ravens tried to buy the rights to the Colts nickname for $5 million

Jacksonville Jaguars

In 1993, Jacksonville resident Ray Potts won a naming contest for the city’s new NFL team with his entry of Jaguars. Potts won season tickets for his choice and a trip to the Super Bowl. 

Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City’s new football team in 1960 was definitely in need of a name change–the franchise’s previous name, the Texans, was not going to fly in Missouri. Former Kansas City Mayor H. Roe Bartle was nicknamed “Chief” and, as a nod to his efforts to bring the formerly Dallas Texans to his city, team ownership named the team Chiefs.

Las Vegas Raiders

In 2020, the Raiders officially made Las Vegas their home after 60 years of bouncing between Oakland and Los Angeles. Originally, the team was going to be called the Oakland Señors, but the name and the planned orange-and-black uniforms were not well received. Instead, the Raiders logo and silver-and-black outfits have become one of the iconic looks in professional sports.

Los Angeles Chargers

In 2017, the Chargers left San Diego for Los Angeles, with plans to play in a new stadium in the area in 2020. Frank Leahy, the Chargers’ first general manager, liked the “Charge!” bugle chant at USC games and suggested the name Chargers. 

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams’ name, a moniker that was first coined in tribute to the strong Fordham Rams college football teams from the 1930s, has stayed the same through several moves. The Rams were also the first team to wear a logo on their helmet, the now famous Ram horns.

Miami Dolphins

According to the book “The Power of a Name: The Origin of Professional Sports Team Nicknames and Their Most Valuable Players,” the name Dolphins was selected in a fan contest. The winner reportedly received two lifetime passes to home games. In addition, owner Joe Robbie liked the name because “the dolphin is one of the fastest and smartest creatures in the sea.” 

Minnesota Vikings

The name Vikings was an obvious choice for the NFL’s new team in Minnesota, given a large number of residents with Scandinavian heritage in the state. Among the other potential monikers were the Miners, Chippewas, and Voyageurs. 

New England Patriots

Many suggestions for the Boston area’s AFL team were historically themed. Minutemen and Colonials were options, but the name Patriots was most popular in a fan-entry contest. 

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans was awarded an NFL franchise on Nov. 1, 1966—All Saints’ Day. Hence, the team became known as the Saints

New York Giants

For much of the Giants’ early existence, there were two professional teams in New York with that name: baseball and football. In 1937, the NFL’s Giants officially changed their name to the New York Football Giants to distinguish themselves from the baseball team.

New York Jets

The Jets entered the AFL as the Titans—albeit no relation to today’s Tennessee Titans—but changed their name in 1963. New owner Sonny Werblin liked the color green and the modern name Jets. 

Philadelphia Eagles

Inspired by former President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which used the American eagle as a symbol, Philadelphia’s football team called themselves the Eagles. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh’s NFL team first shared the same Pirates name as the city’s baseball team but changed to the Steelers in 1940. Steelers was a nod to the city’s steel-making heritage

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers were named after the pioneers who rushed to California in 1849 in search of gold. 

Seattle Seahawks

A reported 20,365 entries were submitted to name Seattle’s NFL team, with Seahawks selected as the winner.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Connected to the legend of José Gaspar and his pirate exploits near Florida, Tampa Bay took on the Buccaneers nickname. 

Tennessee Titans

The Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997 and originally kept their nickname. But two years removed from Texas, the franchise’s ownership decided the team needed a new identity in its new locale. The Titans, a name that once belonged to the New York Jets franchise, was selected. 

Washington Commanders

After 87 years as the Redskins, the franchise parted ways with the name and its racist connotations in 2019 and officially rebranded as the Washington Commanders in February 2022.