There are different types of “nickname origin stories”. For folks in my immigrant family, the nicknames were usually more easily-digested abbreviations of the foreign monikers on our birth certificates: Hajere became “Jerri”, Raheem became “Heemie”, and Mustafa became “Disappointment”.

Joking, mine was Taffy, probably because I sound good at first but then I just become annoying to pry out of your teeth. Figurative, teeth, that is.

But why is the NFL’s Booger McFarland called Booger?

Does it have something to do with the other reason why people get nicknames: for a significant or memorable life event? Perhaps? Did Booger like to pick his nose and eat his boogers a lot as a kid, like me? Have I found a commonality between the NFL player turned commentator?

The same Booger who had a pretty great football career where his exploits on the field brightly shone on both the collegiate and professional level?

The Defensive player registered some 73 tackles in his time at LSU, and he also played the position of fullback, where he helped lead the Tigers to three bowl game victories, and, as a senior, was named team captain. He even played in the Super Bowl at the pro level and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1999 as a 15th pick. He logged in 211 combined tackles with the franchise, 141 solo ones, 20 sacks, and even earned himself a championship ring in the process.

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As far as football careers go, you can’t really do that much better than Booger’s. Oh wait, yes, you can; you can go on to transition your on-field knowledge into an entertainment career, providing commentary for the NFL at a high level. Which is exactly what Booger did after sustaining a career-ending injury after his trade to the Indianapolis Colts. Before leaving football for good though, he helped bring the Colts to the Super Bowl. Not too shabby.

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He didn’t go into the NFL broadcasting booth with Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten from the get go, however. Booger first became one of the SEC Network’s first analysts, before going to ESPN’s ABC college football broadcast team. Then in the 2018 NFL Season, Booger eventually transitioned to getting on the airwaves.

So, why is Booger McFarland called “Booger”?

It’s a name that he got from a very young age courtesy of his mother, “As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one Booger. It’s been that way for a long time, man,” the NFL star said in an interview back in 2004.

Although Booger grew up to become a fine, respectable, and incredibly successful and talented adult, he didn’t always have his personality in order.

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Booger grew up with a knack for getting in trouble. “I was a bad kid, getting into a lot of wild stuff. I used to get called a lot of different things. But that was just the one that stuck.”

So, in a fit of exasperation after trying to talk some sense into her son after he went off and participated in said “wild stuff”, his mother lashed out and called him a “Booger” for his bad behavior.

And that’s the nickname that stuck.

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It’s kind of funny to think that he now wears the nickname like a badge of honor, almost a reminder of how far he’s come from being a rambunctious young kid, to a Super Bowl winner and nationally-recognized broadcast personality for the NFL. Good for you, Booger.

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