Late to the Game: Oh Boy


My philosophy on naming your progeny is simple: Your children are children for a short period of time and adults for the rest of their lives; name them as such.

In kind, we had 15 potential names for my daughter, now two-and-a-half, well in advance of her birth, each one of them suitable and beautiful for both a doe-eyed infant and the CEO of a Fortune 500 company that she will become at 21 before subsidizing my career as a full-time novelist.

But when my wife and I found out we were having a baby boy this winter, we were filled with equal elation and panic. Sure, he’ll carry his surname for another generation like the badge of honor that it is, since by the 2050s or so, all web forms should be able to handle an apostrophe. You gotta think about your children’s children. But what the heck do we name him?

Most boy names are either too plain (John, Mark, Michael), too popular (Oliver, Noah, Samuel), or for infants only (anything ending in -ase, -ace, or -aden). “M” names are out, because our daughter has an “M” name and we don’t want to be one of those families that does the single-letter name for multiple children thing. We’re not “junior” types, so Christopher, the greatest male name on the planet, is also out. Where does that leave us?

Since he’s going to grow up in Austin, Texas, and will in all likelihood be a Longhorn fan, I figured I’d eschew the typical baby naming book in favor of …


This Swiss Army knife of a true freshman—he could probably play every position from wide receiver and running back to strong safety—Lil’Jordan Humphrey has a first name so rare that it landed him on the 2016 Name of the Year ballot as a 15-seed. While Lil’Jordan lost in the first round to female bowler Inta Mulch, the name is truly great for a few reasons. It has two capital letters. It is evocative. It contains the elusive given-name apostrophe, which would allow my future child to double up on punctuation. Here’s the problem, apart from the fact that there really can be only one person with a name this good: As a lifelong Knicks fan, I grew up to resent His Airness, Crying Michael Jordan. Remember those “I Want to Be Like Mike” Gatorade commercials? Here, remember them. My Patrick Ewing-worshipping elementary school friends and I would tack on a “not!” at the end of the ad’s titular phrase, because we were both clever and had seen Wayne’s World too many times. Maybe Lil’Ewing O’Connell? Lil’Starks O’Connell? Lil’Oakley O’Connell? No? Moving on.


I like this name because I have met Quan Cosby, and to meet Quan Cosby is to like Quan Cosby. Also a “Q” name is mysterious. He also threw maybe the greatest block in Texas history, when he sent Oklahoma safety Lendy Holmes back over the Oklahoma border in 2009. Interesting note on that one: on the broadcast, Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger fawn over the hit as they review it from multiple angles. It’s hard to imagine that happening today. I just can’t do Quan though, and here’s why: “Hit the Quan.” The song is fine, and I once witnessed Jamaal Charles and his two daughters dancing to it during an Alcalde photo shoot (a highlight of my reporting life), but it feels too gimmicky. The song is too new. Moving on.


Another “Q” name. I’m intrigued. Quentin Jammer was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, and was a durable, dependable cornerback for 11 years with the Chargers. But for me, Quentin will always be Quentin Tarantino, and I can’t do that to my child. Not after The Hateful Eight.


Hub is good. It’s short and sweet. It lets you know that this kid is all business. Also the NFL’s No. 5 overall pick (though by the Steelers, and 55 years prior) Hub Bechtol played the all-encompassing and archaic end position—before it was split into “offensive” and “defensive”—meaning that Bechtol played on both sides of the ball. BACK WHEN MEN WERE MEN. BEFORE POKEMON GO AND SNAPCHAT. NO WATER BREAKS! I’m saving Hub for later.


A lovely name—especially for Kiki DeAyala, Texas’ all-time leader in sacks and an inaugural member of the short-lived Houston Gamblers franchise of the USFL. The only problem is this would confuse my daughter. Kiki is what she calls her grandmother.


Colt McCoy was an underdog from a one-stoplight town who led his team to the BCS title game, and he did so with a fine name that I actually kind of like. But I’m from New Jersey. My parents wouldn’t know what to do with me.

Bill Boy 

I’m afraid that this one, while it rolls off the tongue, suffers a similar fate as the name preceding it. And don’t think I’ll get out of this by naming my son simply William or Bill. It’s Bill Boy or bust to really honor former wide receiver Bill Boy Bryant, and I’m afraid I don’t have the stones to do it.


This is the clear winner in the annals of Texas football—a strong name that evokes two former U.S. presidents, one of whom I portrayed in a school play in 1991. Roosevelt Leaks is not only a former Heisman candidate, inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, and a trailblazer as the first black superstar at Texas. He was also a fearsome running back with not one, but two nicknames that reflected his softer side: Rosey and Sugar Bear. In the September 1973 issue of the Alcalde, Leaks was referred to as an “introspective, private, farm boy,” who, “enjoyed solitary journeys through the backwoods of Washington County, and loved listening to soul music of Issac Hayes and Johnny Taylor.” That’s nuance, baby. Sorry, Hub.


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