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He Was Born to Play for the Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills now have their Bills-iest player ever: Keaton Bills, an offensive lineman who was recently signed as an undrafted free agent.

In case you’re wondering: According to Pro Football Reference, no NFL player has ever been surnamed “Bears.” Or “Cowboys.” Or “Steelers.” Or “49ers.” Or, as far as I can tell, any other NFL team name.

A whopping 257 players have been named “Brown” (24 of whom played for the Browns), but nobody has been “Browns.” Surprisingly — at least to me — there’s been only one NFL player named “Packer” (sadly, he did not play for Green Bay), and nobody named “Packers.”

In other words, Keaton Bills is pretty unique. Even better, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out, the Bills have issued Bills No. 60, which is the year of the team’s first season. What could be more foundational than that?

The Bills also have their team name on the jersey chest, so Bills (the player) will join the select group of athletes who’ve worn the same name on the front and back of their jersey. NBA great Jerry West did this, for example, while playing for the Western Conference All-Star team:

In addition, although I can’t find a photo of it at the moment, journeyman ballplayer Curtis Pride at one point played for the Triple-A Nashua Pride.

Are there other examples I’m overlooking or forgetting?

(My thanks to Jason Faulkenber for letting me know about this one.)



Comments (41)

    Fred Lane went to Lane College. He’s the only NFL player whose surname is the same as the college he attended.

    Closest he got is the Islanders, I’m afraid. (Which may have been a kind of hell in the Yashin years, but not quite what you were going for)

    I haven’t seen such a “generic” looking jersey since Scott Player’s Browns jersey!

    We just need San Fran to draft a longsnapper from Holy Cross named “Ford T. Nighner” now.

    I literally laughed out loud.

    Only other ones I can think of is Mr Red and Me Met.

    I have my last name on the throwback Pirates yellow jersey from a few years ago.
    I’ve had a few people ask me if it’s a reference to the Steelers.

    Name on front and back: Don’t forget Nate Montana, son of Joe Montana, who played for the University of Montana Grizzlies.


    Correction- The Nashua Pride were an independent professional team, not a Triple-A team.

    I was always disappointed that Darryl Boston never played for the Red Sox and that Allen Houston never played for the Rockets. They could have had the city name front and back.

    There have been multiple NHLers with the last name “Nylander.” But none have ever played for the NY Islanders.

    Paul Ranger only ever played for Tampa and the Leafs.

    The Rangers drafted a guy named Joe Ranger in 1986. Unfortunately, he never reached the NHL.

    The one I remember from decades ago, and admittedly this was different, but umpires in MLB used to have either AL or NL on their cap depending upon their league, and there was an umpire named Al Clark, making him the only person in baseball with his name on his cap.

    My high school DC, Dave Lutes, played for the legendary Frosty Westering at Pacific Lutheran University, which has always worn the team nickname, Lutes, on their jersey backs.

    Off by a plural, but:
    Dwight King played for the LA Kings from 2010-17
    Reggie King played for the KC Kings from 1979-83
    Louis King played for Sacramento from 2020-22

    Other close calls
    Johnny Podres (Padres 1969)
    Jose Cardenal (Cardinals 1970-71)
    Mark Ryal (Royals 1982)
    Jeff Feagles (Eagles 1990-1993)
    Tristan Gray (Rays 2023)
    Equanimeous St. Brown (Saints 2024)

    My wife’s sister married a guy with the last name Twentey. My niece was due on June 20. I said that if she was born on the 20th, they should name her June. That way she her name and her birthday would be the same and she could have her full name on her baseball jersey. No one else thought it was a good idea and Kaitlyn was born on June 21.

    Not exactly the same obviously, but in college Steve Young played with a “Y” on his helmet that stood for his last name, in honor of the namesake of his school, who was his great-great-great-grandfather

    Austin Nola played minor league ball with the New Orleans Zephyrs and wore “NOLA” on the front and back of his jersey

    Jerry West had his name on the front and the back for the NBA ASG, and so did David West!

    The Brandon Wheat Kings hockey team had a player named Wheaton King. Not 100% perfect but damn near close.

    It’s No Wonder why the Buffalo Bills are called “The Forest Gump” of the NFL ~ We’re Like AFeather Blowing Around In The Breeze……….a Player surnamed “Bills” ~ who would have believed it possible?

    This is really cool, as are the other examples named in the comments. We did have Tony Parker Senior (yes, Junior’s dad) playing for the Parker Leiden pro basketball team in the late 70s here in Holland. Some said he was signed so the name Parker (of the fountain pena and ballpoints) would be on the jersey twice.

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