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What’s in a name: Football players who share names with recent Yankees

Do the Yankees have any players with the same name as an NFL player?

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees - Game Two Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

On July 27, 2011, the Cincinnati Bengals signed a running back out of the University of Massachusetts as an undrafted free agent. He did not make the team out of camp, spent the 2011 season and most of 2012 with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League, and then finished the 2012 season at the back of the New York Jets roster, playing nine special teams snaps. His name? John Griffin.

As I’m sure you can tell, I have a rather generic name — after all, when I took one of the many New York City high school admissions tests more than a decade ago, they lined us up alphabetically, and there were three other students named “John Griffin” taking the exam at the exact same time. With the Super Bowl occurring later today, my thoughts turned to my identically-named counterpart on the Jets, and that got me wondering, “Are there any football players who have the same name as a member of the Yankees?”

And so I dove into Pro Football Reference, the NFL counterpart to Baseball Reference, and I searched the database for any player who shares a name with a member of the current Yankees team. As it turns out, there isn’t one — perhaps not surprising, as the team doesn’t exactly have any common names on the 40-man roster. Going back the last few years, in fact, gives us only pitcher A.J. Cole, who pitched for the Yankees in 2018. He shares a name with Raiders All-Pro punter A.J. Cole III. But players who share a first or last name? Well, there are more than a few of those.

When it comes to first names, it’s not surprising that there are more than a few players with the name “DJ” (DJ Chark, D.J. Montgomery, D.J. Fluker), “Joey” (Joey Bosa), and “Anthony” (Anthony Barr, Anthony Averett, Anthony Hitchens). But did you expect there to be an NFL player who shared a first name with Yankees pitcher Jameson Taillon? Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns, cornerback Jameson Houston has spent time on the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Jacksonville Jaguars practice squads; he was elevated to the Eagles active roster three times in 2020, playing 44 defensive and special teams snaps.

How about Brody Koerner? The rookie pitcher, famous for sitting on the active roster for 17 days between appearances — after throwing two innings on August 3rd, he didn’t return to the mound until August 20th — is currently the only player in Major League history with the first name “Brody.” The NFL, meanwhile, has had two players with that name in the 21st century: tight end Brody Liddiard, who played for the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings from 2000 to 2003, and center Brody Eldridge, who played for the Colts in 2010 and 2011.

Perhaps not surprisingly, last names are a bit more common. Cleveland fullback Johnny Stanton and former quarterback Drew Stanton share a name with one of the Yankees’ large home run machines, while recently-fired Giants head coach and current Patriots offensive specialist/Giants head coach washout Joe Judge shares his with the other. The Chicago Bears, meanwhile, have a pair of players, David Montgomery and Akiem Hicks, who share last names with the Yankees left-handed pitcher and switch-hitting center fielder, respectively.

At the end of the day, does this tell us anything? Perhaps eventually, if we do a comprehensive analysis of the names of athletes compared to names within the general population. Obviously, we’re not doing that today, so for now, it’s just a fun way to take a stroll through the NFL on Super Bowl Sunday.

... Yeah, the lockout can’t end soon enough.