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Column: What's in a nickname _ Super Bowl or bust?

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 29, 2014 at 5:26 pm •  Published: January 29, 2014

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — They don't have a secret handshake, decoder rings or their own clubhouse. But even Groucho Marx, who refused to join any club that would have him, would have loved to get into the "Legion of Boom."

It's not just the coolest club — with the coolest nickname — in the NFL at the moment. It's also the most exclusive.

You don't have to be an All Pro-caliber cornerback or safety, as Seattle's Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas are, but it helps. Membership is limited to the four starters, four backups and three assistant coaches who work in the Seahawks defensive backfield — the back end of the best defense in the league this season.

Once accepted, you get bragging rights, a T-shirt and a floor mat to lay in front of your locker. It may not sound like much, but ...

"Be honest," said Seattle's Byron Maxwell, who stepped into a starting corner role when front-liner Brandon Browner was suspended indefinitely for substance abuse. "When you were little, if you heard the name 'Legion of Doom,' right away you'd say, 'That's a group I want to be part of.'"

Yet there's a group even the members of the "LOB" long to join. It's the short list of great defensive squads with great nicknames that terrorized opponents AND went on to win Super Bowls.

The best-ever moniker, "Monsters of the Midway," belonged to arguably the best defense ever, the 1985 Chicago Bears. The 1986 Giants "Big Blue Wrecking Crew" probably should have won more than one. Ditto, perhaps for Miami's "No-Names," who won theirs the season after Cowboys coach Tom Landry described them this way — "A bunch of no names I really don't know anything about" — and then beat them in the 1972 Super Bowl.

Two of the longest-lasting, Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" and Dallas' "Doomsday Defense" both won more than one in the 1970s.

But just as long is the list of those that didn't.

The Vikings' "Purple People Eaters" appeared in four of the first 11 Super Bowls, and wound up losing every one. Denver's "Orange Crush" of late 1970s fame brought the franchise to their first championship, but went home empty-handed. So did Miami's second entry, the "Killer Bs," so named because the last names of six of the unit's 11 starters began with that letter. Two more, the Rams' "Fearsome Foursome" and the Jets' "New York Sack Exchange" never made it to a championship at all.

The eight current members of the "LOB" are young enough to rattle off the names of a few of their celebrated predecessors, but either don't know their fates or don't believe in omens. Truth be told, they're all too consumed right now trying to fashion a legend of their own. The one thing all of them agree on is the founding member.

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