Sole claim?

Posted: Saturday, May 02, 2009 by Travis Cody in

I've never called LaDainian Tomlinson by his initials, as has been the fashion since he emerged as this generation's "greatest running back". That's open for debate, but that's also another post.

For me, those initials belong to my generation's "greatest linebacker", Lawrence Taylor.

Taylor changed the way the position of outside linebacker is played. He IS LT. Tomlinson is an outstanding running back. But he's not LT to me.

Does the first to garner such a moniker have sole claim over it? Or is it a generational thing? I mean really, it's just a couple of initials. LaDainian Tomlinson has the initials L and T in his name. That's all that is, right?

Uhm...not in my opinion. The sports nickname LT belongs to Lawrence Taylor.

Today I happened to turn on the hockey playoff game between Pittsburgh and Washington. Both teams have two of the best players in the game, Sidney Crosby for the Penguins and Alex Ovechkin for the Capitals.

Now I don't follow hockey. But my mom is a huge hockey fan and I learned the game back in the 1970's, and did keep up with it in the 1980's. So I recall the outstanding players of those eras, up to and including The Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

While watching the game this morning, I heard the ESPN pronouncer refer to Ovechkin as The Great One.

Now I ask you, can that particular nickname actually be recycled? Aren't there some monikers that belong to only one person? If you're a hockey fan and you hear The Great One, do you think of Gretzky or Ovechkin? And if you think Ovechkin, do you at least remember the greatness of Gretzky?

Does recycling an iconic sports nickname tie the two monikered ones together? Or does the recent use of such a nickname diminish the legacy of the original?

As great a hitter as Tony Gwynn was, he was never called The Splendid Splinter because that belonged to Ted Williams.

There's no other Magic. That's Magic Johnson.

As high as some of these kids fly in the NBA these days, you wouldn't lay Michael Jordan's nickname "Air" on any of them.

Dr J is Julius Erving.

Walter Payton was Sweetness.

As hard as some of these safeties in the NFL can hit a receiver over the middle, you'd never call one of them The Assassin. That belongs to Jack Tatum.

Why don't we call some of these huge NFL linemen The Fridge? Because The Fridge is William Perry.

Maybe the most egregious usurpation of a sports nickname comes from boxing. When you hear Sugar Ray, you should think Robinson. But how many of you thought Leonard? Now I was a fan of Ray Leonard back in the day. But the nickname Sugar doesn't just go with the name Ray as a matter of course. It goes with the name Ray Robinson.

Am I wrong? Am I just a fuddy duddy old school guy?


  1. i agree, trav... monikers are for ONE character, only

    who else can be 'the brown bomber' but joe louis, or 'iron mike' tyson, or 'broadway joe' theismann, etc.?

    [just shows how OLD i am! :P lol]

  1. Anonymous says:

    I can't agree with you more on this. It's so true about these and maybe I also am showing my age but I don't care. Also there is Broadway Joe, Iron Mike. No other's will ever be or can warrant those names. Great post :)

  1. I'm with you on that one.there are a bunck of my generation of football playes that are great as well.Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns comes to mind.

  1. Jeff B says:

    I've probably seen two or three hockey games in my lifetime, but when I hear "The Great One" Gretzky is the only name that comes to mind.

    This recycling of names seems silly to me.

  1. One name, one dude. Or dudette.

    The Great One is Wayne, and no one else.

  1. I agree with you as well.. the first person to get the name keeps it. The new LT guy can use something else... LDT, perhaps?

  1. coco says:

    Sports blog ... hmmmm. *eyes glaze over*

    Thank you for the comment on my blog, Trav honey. Every hug helps. :)

  1. Travis says:

    Laughingwolf: Indeed!

    Thom: We should always respect those that came before.

    Mike: I'm glad I have company in the old school.

    Jeff: It's iconic.

    Julia: Agreed!

    Terra: LOL! Maybe I'll use that and see if it catches on.

    Coco: You're welcome.

  1. I'm with you completely.

  1. Jamie says:

    How about absolutely right with a smidge of fuddy duddy. :-) I was with you all the way until Sugar Ray Robinson and then welllllll I have to admit that I thought of Leonard first.

  1. Jamie says:

    Oh and I'm old enough to remember "Crazy Legs" Hirsch.

    Great post!!!

  1. Love this article, Travis! Yes you're comepletely right and what you remember I remember even if I'm older than you. No fuddy duddy you! :)

  1. you are spot on.
    and probably a old school kinda guy too.

  1. DrillerAA says:

    I don't follow hockey and never have, so "The Great One" means only one thing to me...Gretzky!
    Some nicknames aren't there just for the taking. They belong to one person! although there was "Air Coryell" before there was Air Jordan, but that was a different sport and referred to a pro football coach and not a NBA player. Sooo, maybe they belong to one person per sport.

  1. Bond says:

    Totally NOT a fuddy duddy... I totally agree...initials I can maybe see...but "THE GREAT ONE" belongs to one and one alone...Mr. Gretsky...

    Besides, Ovechkin seems to be an egotistical smug player...the polar opposite of Mr. Gretsky...

  1. Travis says:

    Charles: Indeed.

    Jamie: I was ok with that recycled nickname until I learned more about Ray Robinson. I don't remember Hirsch, but I do recall stories my mom used to tell. He was a favorite of hers.

    Mary: Well, as Jamie said, maybe just a little bit of fuddy duddy.

    Katherine: I think I qualify as old school. I definitely dislike the baggy unis in basketball and the long pants that don't show stirrups and sanis in baseball.

    Drilleraa: Good point about the Air Coryell. That had slipped my mind. That's another discussion. Is it ok to poach across different sports?

    V: I don't know much about Mr Ovechkin or Mr Crosby. But Mr Gretzky kept my interest in hockey up until he retired.

  1. LT will ALWAYS be Lawrence Taylor to me. No one else has claim to that.