What is in a Name?

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

  • Revelation 2:17

For those looking for an intelligent theological discussion, you will be disappointed.  The philosophy lesson this morning touched on an old memory, a love for the Houston Oilers, an American football team from 1960-1996.  Many people may not remember the team by that name.  Many who do may remember them as a losing team, but the Houston Oilers started in the initial group of American Football League teams.  They appeared in the first three AFL championship games, winning the first two over the Chargers (first of Los Angeles and then of San Diego) and then they lost to the Dallas Texans in double-overtime.  The Texans then immediately moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs.

So, my wife did not embroider the right thing onto a bowling shirt, but she was a die-hard Oiler fan.  They remained the Houston Oilers until the team moved to Tennessee (alternating between Nashville and Memphis for two years).  They did not become the Titans until 1998 where they settled into a new stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.  In the two years after they left Houston, a sportscaster for a sports channel suggested that they become the Tennessee Tuxedos.  I thought that was a great name as I loved that old cartoon show.  But my wife called them the Tennessee Traitors.  She still cannot root for them, even though there is a new team in Houston, the Texans.  Come on, the Kansas City Chiefs were once the Dallas Texans.  Can they not come up with anything original?

I mean, Houston could come up with a lot of names.  I have been asked what a “Seahawk” really is.  I have no idea.  The Buffalo Bills sounds nice, but what is it?  Buffalo Bill Cody was a showman who lived in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada for a while, and Mississauga is not terribly far from Buffalo, NY, but even that is a stretch.

But the Buffalo Bills makes more sense than the Cleveland Browns.  They prefer to not wear their “home” jerseys, which are brown.  They prefer the all-white uniform with orange helmets.  But they are the “Browns.”  Okay, their original coach and co-founder was Paul Brown, but that is just a coincidence.  Right?!  But Paul Brown left there and went to Cincinnati to found the Cincinnati Bengals.

Okay, someone tell me what a “Bengal” is.  The uniforms have hints of a tiger.  There is something called a Bengal Tiger, but simply Bengal?  That is a region in the eastern corner of the Asian subcontinent.  The western half of the region is in India, province of West Bengal, with Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) as the main city.  The eastern part of the region is a different country, Bangladesh.  But no, that would not be an offensive name at all now, would it?  Since there is no team called the Tigers in the NFL or then the AFL, I have no idea why they became the Bengals, but I guess Browns was already taken and having a second set of Browns, with the same original head coach and owner…  Too obvious, I guess.  Note to any future teams looking for a name.  Bengals can become the Bangles or the bungles, depending on whether they win or lose, so watch out!

But now we come to the team that has no name.  The Washington Football Team.  I love the comedian’s line who said that he was offended by their new name.  Someone retorted that they have no team name, they just call themselves a football team.  The comedian retorted back, “That’s it!  It offends me that they call themselves a football team!!!”  They weren’t very good that year.

I am fed up that it has taken them a long time to think of a name.  They should introduce truth to our nation’s capitol.  I know, the idea is so far out there that it is scary that truth could appear in Washington, DC.  But if there ever could be truth, the name should be the Washington “Too-scared-to-give-the-team-any-name-at-all-because- we-will-offend-someone-regardless-of-what-we-name-them.”  It may be hard to create a cheer for such a team name and printing all that on the tickets might get messy.  They could use the faces of politicians as the helmet logo.

No, strike that!  The NFL is trying to cut down on concussions by eliminating helmet to helmet hits.  You put a picture of a politician on the helmet, and you might even get people from your own team taking a shot at the helmet.

I like George Carlin’s idea of having a team named the Mice (I can’t remember which LP that was on).  He even came up with a team song, “Hooray for the pink and white.”  Ken Davis thinks that naming a team Sheep might work (not really), and his cheerleader cheer that he suggests is “Fleece ‘em, fleece ‘em, bah, bah bah!” (from his routine Super Sheep).

I mean, the team names could keep coming.

But God has us all beat.  He suggests that the victor will be given a name on a white stone that only the person with that name knows.  How does that even work?  As Jesus said, “With God, all is possible.”  But maybe the name is what Manna really was.  The victor gets a bowl of manna, and manna really means, “What is it?”  And maybe that is the name on the stone.

Enough fun with the names of professional American football teams.

Maybe I will be more serious tomorrow.  We never know.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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