Uni Watch: Worth turning around for
Which players wore first names on the back of jerseys? Let's take a look
Remember, as we discussed last week, people who obsess over the uni-verse refer to a name on a jersey as an "NOB" -- short for "name on back." So the other name formats all have abbreviations that are variations on the "NOB" theme. Here we go, one at a time:
FIOB: Short for first initial on back. Typically used when there are two same-surnamed players on the same roster. You've probably seen this a million times, but here are some interesting variations and footnotes:
• At one point in the 1970s, the San Diego Chargers put the initial after the name, instead of in front of it. The Cleveland Browns also dabbled with this FIOB style (and as you can see, they included a comma after the name). So did the Denver Gold of the USFL. A more recent example: SMU running back Prescott Line.
• The Cincinnati Stingers of the now-defunct World Hockey Association used FIOB for all their players. You can see how odd this looked by checking out this video clip (the Stingers are the team in yellow).
• MLB outfielder Reggie Smith always insisted on wearing FIOB, even when there were no other Smiths on his team.
• Similarly, Tim Brown always wore FIOB, regardless of whether the Raiders' roster included any other Browns.
FNOB: Short for full name on back. Typically used when first initials aren't sufficient for distinguishing two players. Here's a selective sport-by-sport listing of past and present examples:
- NFL: Brent Adams, Aaron Brooks (that was only during the 2004 preseason, when the Saints apparently had several Brookses in camp), Andra Davis, Andre Davis, Tank Johnson, Todd Johnson, Jerry Moore, Rob Moore, Jon Ogden (a weird one, because he usually went by Jonathan, not Jon), Darrell Reid, Bracy and Brian Walker, Clarence Weathers, Dave Widell, Darrent Williams, Randal Williams, Ricky Williams and Jack and Jim Youngblood.
- MLB: Ron Jackson and Carl Taylor. (Incredibly, these appear to be the only two FNOBs in big league history, although it's worth noting that U.S. Rep. Ron Paul once wore an Astros uni with FNOB for a congressional baseball game.)
- NBA: Marques Johnson, Mickey Johnson and Isiah Thomas.
- NHL/WHA: Gordie Howe, Mark Howe, Don Maloney, Bobby Smith, Ron Sutter, Joe Watson and -- get this -- the entire 1972-73 Alberta Oilers team.
- College football: Kevin Burrus, Jay Carter, Kerry Cash, DJ Hall, Mark Hammerstein, Mike Hammerstein, John Houlik (unusual style for his first name!), Breon Jackson, Brian Jackson, Jamil Merrell and Max Smith.
FiNOB: Short for first name on back. Usually used as a promotional gimmick, much like nicknames. The most famous example is probably Ichiro Suzuki. Others have included Rocco Baldelli (he wore that jersey for only one inning, but it still counts), Vida Blue, Moe Drabowsky, Jay Hankins, Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld.
RNOB: Short for Roman numeral on back. This category has existed for only a few years, as some players have started adding generational suffixes to their jerseys. The most prominent example is clearly Robert Griffin III. Others include Arland Bruce III, B.J. Catalon III, Fred Gulley III, Jake Harry IV, Acie Law IV (when he went pro, he dropped the RNOB and let his uni number stand in for the Roman numeral), Tommie Liddell III, Cecil Shorts III, Andrew White III, John White IV and Eddie Wide III.
JrOB and SrOB: Short for "Jr." on back and "Sr." on back, respectively. Another new category brought about by the rise of generational suffixes on uniforms. JrOBers we've spotted so far include Jackie Bradley Jr., Arthur Brown Jr. (FIOB and JrOB on the same jersey!), Chris Davis Jr. (ditto!), Tim Hardaway Jr., Roy Helu Jr., Duke Johnson Jr. and Mike McCall Jr. (the comma is an unusual touch). SrOB is much rarer, for obvious reasons, but a small batch of examples have cropped up, including Karlos Williams Sr., Floyd Raven Sr., Titus Young Sr., and Mikel Leshoure Sr.
McNOB: Short for "Mc" name on back. Used for any player whose surname begins with "Mc." Worth noting because there are at least three different ways to style the McNOB. Sometimes these styles are even mixed and matched on the same team!
DMOB: Short for diacritical mark on back. This covers accents, tildes, umlauts and so on. The Uni Watch archives do not include a comprehensive DMOB database, but some past and present examples include Pierre Garçon, Jeremy Grègoire, Olli Määttä (whose name must surely set the record for umlauts), Nenê (a FiNOB and and a DMOB simultaneously!) and Rey Ordoñez, among many others.
Those are the primary NOB variants. If some of them seem esoteric, consider that there are even more obscure categories, like SNOB (school name on back), TNOB (team name on back, not to be confused with TOB, which is simply "Team" on back), SOB (slogan on back), CNOB (country name on back) and PNOB (province name on back), but those are quite rare.
Of course, there's one additional category we haven't covered: NNOB. That stands for no name on back. It's not as interesting as all the others, but it has a certain elegance, wouldn't you say?
Paul Lukas has never worn FNOB, FiNOB, FIOB or any other NOB variant. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.