USA Today unveiled their rankings of the top 100 nicknames in NFL history on Thursday, and a trio of Pittsburgh Steelers legends made the cut.
Regarded as one of the best defensive players in league history, “Mean” Joe Greene earned his nickname and the 75th spot in the rankings.
“There’s nothing fancy about Joe Greene’s nickname. It’s simply a classic,” USA Today’s Thomas Neumann wrote. “The moniker came from the student section when Greene was a collegiate standout at North Texas.”
Greene induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 was the culmination of a career that included four Super Bowls, three Defensive Player of the Year awards, four All-Pro selections and ten Pro Bowl nods.
Jerome Bettis or “The Bus” clocked in at No. 36, and was also given his nickname during his college days.
“They wrote an article saying something about how I looked like a bus or something like that and I was taking guys for a ride, and it just kind of stuck,” Bettis told the Beaver County Times in 2015. “So the student body would chant, ‘Nobody stops the bus,’ when I was playing at Notre Dame.”
Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, Bettis is eighth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 13,662 yards. After starting his career with the Rams franchise, Bettis spent the final ten years of his career in Pittsburgh, making four Pro Bowls and winning Super Bowl XL in his final game.
While Greene and Bettis’ nicknames are certainly iconic, a surprising former Steeler was ranked ahead of them.
Kordell Stewart’s came in as the tenth-best nickname in football history with his “Slash” monicker perfectly describing him as a do-it-all weapon ahead of his time.
“Kordell Stewart was dubbed Slash in a nod to the many skills he wielded as a passer/runner/receiver in his early days with the Pittsburgh Steelers by broadcaster Myron Cope,” Neumann writes.
Selected in the second round of the 1995 NFL Draft out of Colorado, Stewart spent the first eight years of his career in Pittsburgh.
He threw for 13,328 yards and 70 touchdowns with 72 interceptions as a Steeler, while also rushing for 2,561 yards and 35 scores.
Stewart led the Steelers to a pair of AFC Championship games, and was named a Pro Bowler in 2001.