Ravens, Steelers Fans

What's in a name? Plenty, it turns out. Though many of the NFL's most well-known franchises have names linked to their regional history – consider the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers – there are many other that can leave fans scratching their heads.

After all, there are no (and never were) Jaguars in Jacksonville or Panthers in Charlotte. And what connection do the Raiders have to Oakland or the Bills to Buffalo? Pretty much none.

But team ownership groups put a lot of thought into their selections, so here's a look at how every NFL team got its name.

Baltimore Ravens

Ray Lewis

Though owner Art Modell tried to buy back the Colts name from the original Baltimore franchise that relocated to Indianapolis, he couldn't. So when the then-Browns moved to Baltimore after the 1995 season, the name Ravens won a fan contest and is a nod to Edgar Allen Poe, the poet who wrote "The Raven" and is buried in Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo's original All-America Football Conference team was originally named the Bisons, but was changed to the Bills in 1947, when the team held a naming contest. The idea was to honor Buffalo Bill Cody. In 1960, when Buffalo got an American Football League franchise, the name was retained.

Cincinnati Bengals

Andy Dalton

The city's previous pro football team was previously called the Bengals, so in an effort to keep continuity, then-owner Paul Brown kept the Bengals name when his expansion team joined the AFL in 1968. But fans wanted the team to be called the "Buckeyes."

Cleveland Browns

Paul Brown

Honoring their popular coach Paul Brown, the name Browns was the winner for a 1945 fan-naming contest for the AAFC team in Cleveland. But Brown vetoed the idea and the team was set to be called the Panthers. It turned out a local businessman owned the right to the name "Cleveland Panthers," so Brown agreed to the use of his name.

Denver Broncos

John Elway

When Denver joined the AFL in 1960, a naming-rights contest was held and Broncos was the winner. That name carried over after the AFL-NFL merger.

Houston Texans

J.J. Watt

Developed by information gleaned from focus groups, the name Texans beat out Apollos and Stallions for the expansion team that began play in 2002.

Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning

The name Colts was chosen when the AAFC team was formed in Baltimore in 1947. Selected to honor Baltimore's horse racing tradition, the team disbanded in 1950, then was reborn in 1953. Indianapolis retained the name when the NFL team moved there in 1984.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tom Coughlin

Selected through a fan contest, the Jaguars name beat out Sharks and Stingrays when the NFL expanded to this southern city in 1995. Though Jaguars aren't native to this part of Florida, the oldest living jaguar in North America does reside at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs

The AFL franchise that ended up being the Chiefs started as the Dallas Texans. But the name Chiefs was selected through a fan contest when the team moved to K.C. in 1963.

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins

This was picked through a fan contest. When then-owner Joe Robbie announced the name in October 1965, he said, "Dolphins can attack and kill a shark or a whale. Sailors say bad luck will come to anyone who harms them."

New England Patriots

Tom Brady And Bill Belichick

There's no question how this franchise got its name – with Boston as the cradle of the American Revolution, Patriots was a natural. But why are they the New England Patriots rather than the Boston Patriots? Here's why the team decided to make the change.

New York Jets

Joe Namath

In its original incarnation in the AFL, this team was called the Titans, but in 1963, when Sonny Werblin took over, he changed the name to the Jets, which he considered more modern. Another story is that due to the team's proximity to LaGuardia Airport (the team originally played at Shea Stadium), naming the team after airplanes made sense.

Oakland Raiders

Al Davis

First known as the Señors to honor Northern California's Spanish settlers as the result of a naming contest held by the Oakland Tribute, the team got plenty of backlash and was ridiculed. So after sending the fan that came up with the name on a vacation to the Bahamas, then-majority owner Chet Soda changed the name to Raiders.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Terry Bradshaw

They were originally named after the local baseball team, the Pirates. But in 1940, then-owner Art Rooney Sr. changed it to reflect the community. Pittsburgh is known as "Steeltown" and was the cradle of America’s steel industry.

San Diego Chargers

LaDainian Tomlinson

Often referred to as the "Bolts," the Chargers name has no connection to light, lightning or electricity. Rather, original owner Barron Hilton liked fans yelling, "Charge!" when the bugle was sounded at Dodgers and USC games at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, thus the name Chargers was born.

Tennessee Titans

Eddie George

Originally the Houston Oilers, this team played as the Tennessee Oilers for two seasons before team owner Bud Adams took public input and settled on the Titans, because it implies "strength, leadership and other heroic qualities." Additionally, with Nashville being known as the "Athens of the South," the term from Greek mythology was a good fit.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals

If you thought this team was named after the bird, you'd be wrong. Before moving to St. Louis and Arizona, this franchise began in Chicago in 1898. It bought somewhat muted red jerseys from the University of Chicago, and when someone called the shirts a faded red, then-owner Chris O’Brien replied that the color was "Cardinal" red.

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan

Though falcons have no relationship to Georgia, the name beat out Crackers, Peaches, Fireballs and Thunderbirds, to name a few. The teacher who suggested the name wrote in her essay "The falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight. It never drops its prey. It's deadly and has a great sporting tradition."

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton

Selected by the ownership group after the NFL expanded to Charlotte in 1995, team president Mark Richardson said, "It's a name our family thought signifies what we thought a team should be – powerful, sleek and strong." Like Jacksonville's Jaguar, the animal has no relationship to the state.

Chicago Bears

Walter Payton

The team was originally located in Decatur and named after the starch company, Staley, that was its key sponsor. George Halas, a star player as well as founder and manager, moved the team to Chicago and renamed it the Bears in 1922. The reason? The Cubs were already in town and Halas thought football players were bigger than baseball players, so the name should be Bears.

Dallas Cowboys

Roger Staubach

America's Team wasn't always called the Cowboys. Initially known as the Steers, the franchise changed its name just a few weeks later to the Rangers, even though there was a minor-league baseball team of the same name in town. The baseball team was scheduled to fold before the start of the 1960 season, but it didn't, so then team owners switched to Cowboys to avoid redundancy.

Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson

Like plenty of team owners before him, then-majority owner George Richards selected Lions in 1934 as a nod to Detroit’s baseball team, the Tigers. Richards believed the lion was the "monarch of the jungle," and he hoped his team would mimic the animal.

Los Angeles Rams

Eric Dickerson

This team may be the only one named after a college team – the Fordham Rams. The team's first general manager, Buzz Wetzel, said his favorite football team was Fordham, and owner Homer Marshman liked the sound of the name. At the time, Fordham, Vince Lombardi's alma mater, was a juggernaut.

Green Bay Packers

Packers Fans

The oldest team name still in use today, the Packers were so named because of the local meat packing industry, but also because the Indian Packing Company provided $500 for uniforms and a place to practice.

Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson

Tapping the region's heritage, Minnesota's first GM, Bert Rose, picked the name Vikings to honor the huge Scandinavian population in the area.

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham

This one was a no-brainer. The NFL awarded New Orleans an expansion team in 1966 on November 1 -- All Saints Day -- and the city itself is famous not just for jazz, but for the song "When the Saints Go Marching In."

New York Giants

Phil Simms

This football franchise liked the name Giants so much, it named itself after the baseball Giants of New York. To make the distinction, the football team called itself the "New York Football Giants," which is still the team's legal corporate name, even though the baseball team left for San Francisco in 1958.

Philadelphia Eagles

Donovan McNabb

Playing in one of America's most historic cities, the Eagles have one of the league's most historic names. The club was formed during the era of FDR's New Deal, and owner Bert Bell picked Eagles, the symbol of the welfare program, because he hoped his new NFL team was also headed for bigger, better things.

San Francisco 49ers

Joe Montana, Steve Young, Bill Walsh

For those who aren't too familiar with California's gold rush, the team was named in 1946 after the prospectors who mined and panned for gold in the Sierra Nevada beginning in 1849.

Seattle Seahawks

Richard Sherman And Seattle Seahawks Fans

Another word for "osprey," the name Seahawks was selected from a contest when the NFL expanded to Seattle in 1976. Upon unveiling the name, Seattle GM John Thompson said, it "reflects our Northwest heritage and belongs to no other major league team."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Derrick Brooks

The team went with a fan contest to produce a list of names that an advisory board, consisting of area sportswriters and club executives, could consider. They settled on Buccaneers, a historical reference to the pirates that frequented that region of Florida in the 17th century.

Washington Redskins

Doug Williams

The franchise was originally located in Boston and took the name of the Braves, one of the local baseball teams. Founder George Preston Marshall changed the name to Redskins after its first season, which was poorly attended and had huge budget overruns. Legend has it that Marshall picked the name to honor William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz, who was known at the time to be a Native American head coach. But subsequent research has shown that Dietz might have been a fraud as he was "jailed for falsifying his Native American identity to avoid the draft in World War I", and there were accounts that he was "a German American from Wisconsin who wanted to play football as an Indian to cash in on the fame accorded athletes such as Jim Thorpe, his good friend."