It's become fashionable for a football team to have a nickname – or really, for a football team's position groups to have nicknames. The Redskins' offensive line, for example, has "Hogs 2.0" and the special teams and linebacker unit has "The Wolfpack." Sometimes they form organically, sometimes they lean on history and cliché, but they also can inspire T-shirts and social media campaigns.
These aren't exactly exclusive clubs and they aren't policed very strictly – quarterback Kirk Cousins wore a Hogs 2.0 shirt in practice on Monday, while a variety of players have posted Instagram photos of wolves and written hashtags even if they weren't necessarily been part of the linebacker meeting room last season. They are mostly fun ways to bond together.
That being said, the defensive backs group never had a sobriquet they could claim as their own in 2016. Even with cornerback Josh Norman in the fold, a series of injuries and constant new faces made finding a collective name a challenge. Enter new safety D.J. Swearinger.
Signed in March after a strong season with the Cardinals, the new member of the burgundy and gold wanted to change some of the culture on the defense – and with a cast that features Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Su'a Cravens and DeAngelo Hall, among others, he has high hopes. That will seemingly start, however, with finding an identity. In other words, fastening a nickname to a unit that stands to only get better as the offseason progresses.
This was announced somewhat casually on Swearinger's Instagram recently, in which the safety explained that "No Fly Zone," would not be an original name, especially considering the Denver Broncos have a kids camp called that, and, well, just about everyone has used it at one point, even Swearinger's previous teams in Arizona.
"I really don't like swagger-jacking," said Swearinger, introducing a new term I've never heard before, "or taking what other people put out there."
So his solution? #G5FlightMarshals.
"Flight Marshalls, they're in control of the air, control the plans, and I say G5 because it's the best type of plane out there," Swearinger said. "I feel like we're the best group, so let's be the G5 flight marshals, start our own trend. And once you start a trend, and you get the guy to believe in that trend, once you make a play and you continue to gel as a group, it just brings us closer if we have a name."
It would be splitting hairs to explain to Swearinger that the correct terms is actually "air marshal," or that G5 planes normally don't need the service of one. These are things that he knows already. But why be anything if not unique?
So far, the secondary is on board (mind the pun) with this group name, he said. It's only a matter of time until it becomes a mentality.
"We have to change things around here and want to be the best," Swearinger said. "We have a lot of talent. If we can just get this group to gel off the field, it'll help us a lot on the field. I've always been a part of some very good secondaries, so just getting everybody to gel, come together as one, it can make your whole secondary better. Once your secondary is good, everybody falls into place."
In other words, Swearinger would like fans to buckle their seatbelts, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, resting assured in the secondary.