Wildlife in the NFL

Male Lion, Serengeti, Africa


The affinity people have for animals is deeply rooted in our past, and continues to this day. All around us are signs of animal love, even in America’s National Football League. Since we are currently in the clutches of the NFL playoff season, let’s take a fun look at wildlife-based team names.


Of the 32 NFL teams, nearly half echo wildlife species: five are birds, ten are mammals. (Many mascots, major, and minor league teams have wildlife themes as well–too many to cover here.)


In no specific order, the first photo represents the Detroit Lions. Then there are the:


Seattle Seahawks

Osprey in Mexico


Los Angeles Rams

Male Bighorn Sheep aka Rams, Colorado


Baltimore Ravens

Common Raven, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California


Buffalo Bills

African Buffalo, Botswana


Atlanta Falcons

Laughing Falcon, Belize


Most of the NFL animal names conjure up images of toughness, but not all. The Dolphins, for example, are not an intimidating mammal; and Colts don’t leave me trembling. But Bengals, Jaguars and Panthers, yes, they are wild animals we don’t want to mess with. Broncos can be dangerous, but the amplified horse neigh sound in the Denver stadium is more entertaining than scary.


If you’re wondering about my favorite team, I have many. I hail from a long line of Cheesehead ancestors, diehard fans of the Green Bay Packers. My cousin, for example, did a eulogy at my mother’s funeral wearing a giant yellow foam cheese wedge on her head.


Beyond what I was born into, my next favorite team is Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This is a cake I baked last year for Super Bowl Sunday, with Tom Brady on top.


Super Bowl cake with Tom Brady on top


More teams include the:

Philadelphia Eagles

Bald Eagle, California


Arizona Cardinals:

Red-crested Cardinal, Hawaii


I don’t just follow two teams, I follow them all. I have numerous favorite quarterbacks, and dozens of favorite offensive and defensive players.


I enjoy the game for the athleticism, strategy, complexity, excitement, and ingenuity. The drive for excellence is endlessly inspiring to me.


But my football merriment is nothing in comparison to many fanatical fans. We took these photos from the television in a recent nail-biter playoff game.


Philadelphia Eagles fan


Chicago Bears fan


And since we’re talking about football, how could Jet Eliot mention NFL team names without a nod to the Jets?

for the New York Jets


For the next few weeks we will be celebrating the completion and winner of the 2018-2019 football season. It’s great to have these burly teams showcasing the same wildlife that many of us revere.


Written by Jet Eliot.

All photos by Athena Alexander.

Wikipedia links: National Football League and American Football Positions


Chicago Bears

Grizzly Bear, Alaska


100 thoughts on “Wildlife in the NFL

  1. Lovely photos as always! I’ve never been a football fan but love how you tied the teams to the photos, well done Jet! Humans and animals will forever be tied together. ❀️😎

  2. Although not having too much insight into the workings of the NFL, I have noticed the many team names that refer to wildlife. Seeing them ‘in action’ here was really fun! Thank you for some new insights and beautiful photos! All the best for the fresh, new year πŸ™‚

    • I watch a lot of NFL in its season, and many of the helmets have really cool graphics of the animal, my eyes seem to always be looking at the different animal graphics. Very glad I brought new insight on NFL, and really happy you enjoyed the photos, Helen. Thanks so very much for your visit. My best to you in the new year, too.

  3. I really expected a Bengal or a jaguar photo. You’ll have to rosin up your giant gourd call and head for Brazil. The eagles are back in Boise, I’ve been watching the sky for days, but the only ones I’ve seen are far away. I’d like to get one out my office window, because that’s something I regularly post on my blog.

    • Had to laugh at “your giant gourd call” comment, Craig. And I am so glad to hear the eagles are in the Boise area, how very exciting that must be. I imagine they congregate around a lake or river area for hunting. I hope they cruise by your office window…. Thanks and smiles–

      • The natives call jaguars with a gourd covered with horsehide. There is a braided piece on the inside. They rosin the braid and stroke their fingers over it. The vibrations make a sound much like El Tigre’s roar. It’s almost like an inverse drum. I saw an old film of it years ago. (I want one for a curio.) No eagle action here today, but I have a month or so to see them.

  4. This is so timely. My daughter Christie who was just with me is a huge fan of both the Philadelphia Eagles (having be brought up outside of Phila) and the New England Patriots (she lives and works in Boston). She would love to read your blog…I must put her onto it.

    When I lived in the States, I enjoyed lots of college football….and have to admit that the thing I enjoyed the most was the tailgating and the mid-way show which probably makes me a football philistine:)

    I also have to admit that my favourite sport is rugby….what can I say?

    Thank you for a most enjoyable read on a Friday afternoon. Have a lovely weekend. janet …..

    • Well those are both excellent teams that your daughter likes, Janet. Glad you enjoyed the post, my friend. It is always a treat to hear from you, and I am smiling at the thought of your lovely recent visit with Christie. I’m so glad she made it there to visit with you, that it all worked out. I hope your weekend is grand, dear Janet.

  5. Wish you had posted a picture of your cousin and the wedge of cheese. I used sports teams in my Birds Are Cool presentation when I was a park ranger. And how some of them with funny names could have inspired rock bands. The Wandering Tattlers. The Tufted Titmice. The Blue Footed Boobies.

    • Sports teams and rock bands — what a great tool for giving yet more reasons for why birds are cool. Loved your contribution with the band names, Cindy. Thanks too for visiting my FB page. Always great to “see” you around. I cannot seem to go to your site, so I’m always glad when you come to mine. I enjoy your visits.

  6. I enjoyed reading your post today – it was interesting to think of all these connections. Also, having recently attended a funeral, that image of your cousin giving the eulogy made me smile. I’m sure it lifted many spirits that day – simultaneously as they mourned your mother.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Lenore. Yes, my cousin’s cheesehead did lift the spirits that day…I hope it helped lift yours today, too. Nice to “see” you, thank you for stopping by.

  7. I enjoyed this unique post, Jet! …and will think of it — and you — as I watch the games in the next couple of weeks! Happy Playoffs!

    • I watch so many games, and even though I fast-forward through all the dull parts and commercials, it still leaves time to contemplate the animals as they correspond to the teams. Glad you enjoyed it, Nan, and as always, thank you for your visit and comment.

  8. Americans in general are very fond of Nature, especially animals. I’m a firm believer that by loving pets or animals, make the persons more compassionate with humans and respect life more than others who don’t. Great post my friend! πŸ™‚

  9. What a fun post! But aren’t Orcas part of the Dolphin clan? Killer Whales aren’t anything to sneer at. How on earth did Athena catch that Raven shot? I’m impressed.

    • Well, if you want to get technical, dear Gunta, Orcas do not represent the Miami Dolphins. But yes, I agree, the killer whales aren’t anything to sneer at. I love that photo Athena got of the raven at the Golden Gate Bridge, too, thanks. We were up on a trail on The Headlands, above the bridge on an early morning in winter last year, at a non-tourist time, when some beautiful ravens soared over our heads. Always a joy to “see” you, Gunta.

  10. I grew up in Iowa watching the Packers with my dad, back in the days when Vince Lombardi was coaching. With no pro team in Iowa, it was a good choice, and besides — it was Lombardi. Now, I have a 94 year old aunt in Kansas City who’s as rabid a Chiefs fan as you could want. She always calls me when KC plays Houston, just to let me know she’s put the same hex on Houston as she does on any other opponent, even though she feels bad about hexing her niece’s team!

    • You got me chuckling here, Linda, because so much of your story here is parallel with mine. My father and his friends and siblings were avid Vince Lombardi fans too. They went to Lambeau often, and the colder the better, they said. And my 95-year-old aunt is also an avid Packer fan, even had a little Packer altar before she moved to the nursing home. I love knowing that Iowans, and you and your dad, were Packer fans. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face.

  11. This post made my day! Wonderful stories, fabulous wildlife photographs, and then the fan headgear topped it all off.
    My favourite sports are rugby and hockey, and I was a Stampeders (CFL) season ticket holder in Calgary, but I think if I’m ever down south for an extended period, I’d have to follow an NFL team – is it wrong to choose the Packers, thinking they’re geographically almost Canadian?! I’d best leave it there…
    Thanks, Jet, and enjoy your weekend!

    • I love the spirit you have, pc, thanks for this wonderful comment. That fan headgear was fun, I’m glad you liked it. During Wild Card weekend and Playoff season, so many people dress up. I chose two costumes that related to wildlife for this post, but oh my goodness, what they all do to display their devotion! I think you’d make a great Packers fan, my friend, and we could even get Scout to be a Cheesehead too. lol. Many thanks, and cheers to you and Mrs. PC for a wonderful weekend.

  12. must admit this was very clever although what about cheese heads:)
    To bad da Bears are taking a break from this years Super Bowl otherwise Go Bears!!!

    • Cheeseheads are not wilderness, and I had to have some criteria especially for a wildlife/travel blog. lol. Da Bears did so good this year, maybe the Superbowl visit will come next year. Many thanks, dear Bill, much appreciated.

    • Glad you enjoyed the wildlife NFL post, Michael Stephen. The Superbowl is on Feb. 3. It’s that time of year when even non-football people feel football in the air. Many thanks.

    • Thanks so much for your visit, Sharon, I’m glad you enjoyed the wildlife/NFL post. And yes, definitely enjoying the snacks. Nachos for tonight’s game, with our 13-yo neighbor football fan to join us.

  13. What an outstanding post! I enjoyed every bit of this one! Great photos as always. Makes it easy to see why these were chosen as mascots.( I don’t think I would be all that comfortable in that bears costume though.)

    • Yes, some of the costumes fans wear look very uncomfortable, I agree, montucky. And I’m smiling at your comment, so happy you thought it was outstanding. My warmest thanks.

  14. I understand that football is a big thing in the US. I’m not a fan so I really don’t get all the commentary that goes around after every game. I do however love this post theme. Well done! … especially when you open with the king kitty himself πŸ™‚

  15. A fun trivia question is to ask people to name all the mascots in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL that do NOT end in the letter s. Hint – there are none in the NFL.

    Enjoy the last three football games of the year.

    • Seeing how he is a hero of mine, I can imagine that he would rally and figure out a great series, despite it being American football. In fact, I can easily see Sir David laying on his side under the goal post with one of the animals. lol. Great fun, RH, thanks for your visit.

  16. I am not much of a football fan, although my three sons are, but I do love the photos of all the wildlife and had not realised that football teams use animal and bird names as much as they do, until now. Live and learn. Very clever post!

    Love the red crested cardinal and the African buffalo.


    • American football and the NFL is a little difficult to understand for non-Americans, but I sure appreciate your interest in the post, Draco. Enjoyed your visit to Japan so much….

    • I was hoping the Saints would win too, ACI. And I thought you would enjoy the NFL theme here, glad you had a chance to stop by. I’m a Tom Brady fan, so the little guy goes back on the cake for Super Bowl Sunday again this year. Cheers to you and Gabby too.

  17. We are a household of football fans, so I love this post…awesome! We’ve had a family fantasy football league for at least 10 years. We raised our girls tuned into the NFL and all three fortunately married guys who are just as involved. What I love about fantasy football is you follow so many teams, you really are engaged in numerous games (love NFL Red Zone)…..
    Having grown up in the midwest…get the Green Bay Packer thing….we lived in Denver for a number of years and became avid Bronco fans…then San Diego for 24 years….Charger fans…hated the move to LA (and look where we are now…LA)…Phoenix for 5 years…Cardinals where good when first got there…not so much currently…and Seattle…we happened to be living up there when they first went to Super Bowl in 2013…just love the season!! Anyway….since we are now back in So Cal…have to support the Rams…

    Can’t leave without commenting on the pics…great job!! Have a great week!

    • I so enjoyed your football enthusiasm, Kirt, thanks so much. And after I read your comment, I remembered a few years ago when you and I exchanged a few NFL comments after I had posted something about the Seahawks. I, too, love the season and am sad to see it ending this week. But the Draft will begin in April. I hope you have a fantastic Super Bowl Sunday, my friend. Many smiles and thanks to you.

      • My wife has been bemoaning the end of the season since playoffs began….I’m the type that will feel the pain the week after super bowl! Love your positive attitude about the draft only being a few months away!! Have a great week!!

    • I am so glad you enjoyed the NFL wildlife photos, Dina. It adds an unusual element to the game, the aspect of wildlife. This weekend is the American Super Bowl, on Sunday. Lots of parties and silliness, as well as football spirit. The last game of the season, and a lofty winner at the end of it. Thanks so much for your visits today, much appreciated.

  18. Jet, I am not an NFL fan except for my home team Bears, and they only when they are really good and go to the Superbowl, which happens these days far less often than our having -60 degree wind chills as we had last week. My favorite wild life baseball team are the Chicago Cubs. Of course. Thanks you for the clever and informative piece.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this different angle of the NFL, David. Thanks very much for stopping by. I hear the negative double digits have subsided this week in your area, whew, good thing. I hope you’re staying warm.

      • Thank you, Jet, for your kind wish. Today is a balmy 30 degrees F and everything is fine. Hope you are doing well too.

  19. Great topic!
    The cheesehead eulogy at your mom’s funeral was perfect for a Packer fan of her caliber.
    It is fitting that the Lions and β€œda Bears” are two of Green Bay’s arch rivals.

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