Thursday, August 4, 2011
Of all the Bubbas, he was the Bubbest
Before Bubba Gump, before Bubba Trammell, before Bubba Paris, Bubba Watson and Bubba the Love Sponge, there was Bubba Smith - the Pro Football Hall of Famer who passed away unexpectedly this week at the age of 66.
For an entire generation of football fans, the name Bubba was as synonymous with Bubba Smith as Hacksaw was with Jack Reynolds, Too Tall was with Ed Jones, or Night Train was with Dick Lane. They weren't the only Bubbas, Hacksaws, Too Talls and Night Trains out there, but they owned their respective nicknames because of the enormity of their talent and their larger-than-life personalities.
Somewhere along the line, football got lazy with nicknames, to the point where the default mode today is to go with initials like T.O. and L.T. Chad Ocho Cinco gets points for originality, but changing your last name to your uniform number in Spanish for self-promotional purposes is a far cry from the days when Mean Joe, the Mad Stork, White Shoes, Broadway Joe, Sweetness and the Fridge were earning their aliases by tearing up the gridiron.
So rest in peace, Bubba, knowing that you were the product of a byegone era when nicknames were bestowed with consideration and creativity, and capriciousness was never confused with character.