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Matthew is gospel when it comes to NFL quarterbacks

Up to seven quarterbacks with the first name Matt or Matthew could play this season.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 26, 2012
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photo - Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws against the Oakland Raiders during a preseason NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) ORG XMIT: OAS111
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws against the Oakland Raiders during a preseason NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) ORG XMIT: OAS111

Matt Cassel figures to quarterback the Chiefs. Matt Ryan is the man with the Falcons. Matt Schaub commands the Texan huddle. Matthew Stafford quarterbacks the Lions.

Matt Flynn was signed to quarterback the Seahawks, though he's getting pushed by rookie Russell Wilson, who for some odd reason is not named Matt.

The Titans, because they don't know a good story, or maybe even a good quarterback, when they see one, have named Jake Locker to start over Matt Hasselbeck. And the Dolphins have picked rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill over Matt Moore.

Want your son to grow up to be an NFL quarterback? It might be too late, if you didn't name him Matthew. Of 32 NFL starting quarterbacks this season, at least four, probably five and maybe by midseason seven could have the first name of Matt or Matthew.

In 1990, Matthew ranked 25th in frequency among U.S. male names, behind usual suspects James, John, Robert, Michael and Williams, which ranked 1-5, but also behind Brian, Ronald, Anthony, Kevin and Jason (20-24).

Matthew is gaining some in popularity. It was the 16th-most common name given to boys born in 2010, but still behind names like Ethan, Jayden and Mason.

So the proliferation of Matt quarterbacks makes no numerical sense.

Or historical. This is a new development. Before the current crop of Matts — which also includes Raiders backup Matt Leinart — the Matthew Brigade didn't make much of a dent at quarterback. Not counting active players, I found only seven Matts in NFL history who played quarterback, and none of them to much acclaim. Matt Cavanaugh, the old Pitt U. journeyman, was the best.

The Matts trump all kinds of other names that are more common. Like Bill. Or Billy. Or William. Or Willie. Only 21 Bills or root names of William have quarterbacked in NFL history, and few were notable. Billy Wade. Bill Nielsen. Billy Kilmer. Bill Munson. Billy Joe Hobert. Bill Kenney. That's about it.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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