NEWARK, N.J. – Nickname fever has officially infected Super Bowl XLVIII, at least judging by the amount of discussion it generated on media day.
Perhaps we should blame Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch and Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton, owners of possibly the two best known and more distinguishable monikers among the Super Bowl teams.
During media day plenty of other members of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks were happy to gear up for the championship game by revealing their own nicknames – and even making up some new ones, ranging from the obvious to the bizarre to the not-so-family-friendly.
Lynch earned his term of endearment with his ferocious running style, but he is also quick to bestow catchy names upon plenty of his colleagues.
"I don't know how he came up with my nickname," said teammate Breno Giacomini, whom Lynch calls "The Big Russian." "I guess he just doesn't believe I am Brazilian.
"Marshawn's nickname is maybe our best one, but there are a lot of others. We have a good group like that. It is all part of the fun. But I have to admit that a lot of the nicknames are not really appropriate to be talked about in public."
The Seahawks have Jared "Fat Rabbit" Smith at guard, "because he looks like one," according to a quick-witted colleague who was passing by and heard him quizzed about the nickname.
Pete Carroll's team also has a "Bam Bam" (Kam Chancellor) and a "Bang Bang" (Brandon Mebane).
Earl Thomas is "Deuce," conjured up by former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley because the name "Earl The Pearl" had already belonged to pro basketball star Earl Monroe. That made Thomas the second "Pearl" – hence "Deuce" was born.
On the Broncos side, "Orange Julius" (tight end Julius Thomas) admitted he loves the whole nickname craze. "It is a cool thing," he said. " 'Pot Roast' is the greatest one, but there are others. The guys like it and I think some of the fans get a kick out of it."
Media day inevitably produces some bizarre scenes and even odder storylines, and this year was no exception. In one corner of the Prudential Center there was aging TV host Regis Philbin urgently trying to persuade Knighton to come up with a nickname to bestow upon him. "Filet" was the best a perplexed "Pot Roast" could come up with, for no apparent reason.
In the opposite corner Broncos' defensive tackle Mitch Unrein was prepared to reveal an uncomfortable family secret – his nickname of "Pig."
"These guys don't know about it; you are the first person here that I'm telling," Unrein said. "That was my nickname when I was a little kid. My older brother was a bully and he used to make me cry."
Unrein's confession inspired Hall Davis, a defensive end signed to the Broncos practice squad this, to share that he is referred to as "The Undertaker" – but not because he has any particular affinity for professional wrestling.
It is because Davis' family owns and operates three funeral homes in his hometown of Baton Rouge, La., and he intends to take over the business once his playing career is finished.
His quarterback Peyton Manning needs no introduction, but even he has a nickname – "The Sheriff" – given to him by Jon Gruden years ago in response to the way Manning waves his arms and directs his offense at the line of scrimmage.
"The Sheriff" came to the "Big Apple" to attempt to win what could be the "Snow Bowl," which follows on from last year's sibling rivalry that was the "Har-bowl." Trying to stop him will be the "Legion of Boom" – a matchup that will have "The City That Never Sleeps" wide awake and watching intently.