American football German-American NFL hopeful has one heck of a name

An American father obsessed with football and names and a German mother passionate about culture have a son signed up as a pro football player, with two more likely to follow.
Quelle: picture alliance
Good hands and good language skills.

German fans of American football have a new name to follow in the National Football League, and it’s a doozy — Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown. Better known as EQ, the former star wide receiver of the Notre Dame university team has been drafted by Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers. He is one of several players of German parentage to have joined the ranks of the pros competing in America’s most popular sport.

Like most football players, Mr. St. Brown is big. He has an imposing 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame (193 cm, 92.5 kg). He’s also fast, clocked at 4.48 seconds per 40 yards, and has big hands with a span of 9.6 inches. Explosive and agile, he has a blend of size and speed that presents matchup problems for big and small defensive backs alike. All of these attributes are ideal for a receiver whose job is to catch passes, run fast and score touchdowns.

Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown was so good at all three as a collegiate football player that his name quickly popped up on the radar screens of NFL scouts. And what a name it is — and the story behind it.

In Germany, you can’t just name your kid anything. Miriam Brown, wife, football fan and mother of three

The pro-football player’s dad, John Brown, is a two-time Mr. Universe and three-time Mr. World champion bodybuilder. He originally played football but decided to pursue bodybuilding because, as he told Sports Illustrated, it afforded him total control, with zero reliance on teammates. He met his wife, Miriam Steyer, a physical therapist from Leverkusen, at a 1987 fitness trade show from nearby Cologne. So that part of the name is clear — St. Brown.

In college, father Brown had a friend who was writing a book featuring a character named Equanimeous. His friend said the name was inspired by the word equanimity, which means “calmness and composure, especially in difficult situations.” Mr. Brown, hoping someday to raise a family and ideally one packed with athletes, liked the name so much that he vowed to bestow it on his first son. As for the rest, Tristan is the name of a Cornish knight, Imhotep an historical Egyptian figure and J. is short for John.

The name isn't easy for everyone to swallow. His mother Miriam, who comes from a traditional German family, said it was “a shock for my parents, everybody,” in an interview with the US sports channel ESPN. “In Germany, you can’t just name your kid anything: It has to be an approved name. There is a book you can pick from, so Equanimeous is a made-up name for me.”

Father John with sons EQ and Amon-Ra Julian Heru J., and mother Miriam.

Mr. Brown didn’t stop there. Two more sons followed, also given (surprise, surprise) unique names: Osiris Adrian Amen-Ra J. and Amon-Ra Julian Heru J., after the Greek gods Osiris and Amon. Both (wouldn't you know) are also football players with professional aspirations. Osiris plays at Stanford University and Amon will play this season at the University of Southern California, or USC. Their mother Miriam said the names are so overwhelming for her father that he carries a piece of paper in his pocket whenever asked to name his grandchildren.

All three boys are fluent in three languages: German, French and English. Their mother only speaks German to them. She made them read German aloud for 10 minutes on the way to school every morning, often “German magazines with political articles or scientific articles,” Miriam told Sports Illustrated, “with words they’ve probably never heard.” They attended a French-speaking private school in Orange County, California, and spent several months with their mother living in Paris.

Aside from a name that stirs endless fascination, Mr. St. Brown has the potential to make a mark on the field – and to help keep American football alive in Germany. The sport was introduced briefly after the Second World War but forgotten. A national league was formed in 1979, with the season's opening game played in Düsseldorf (this editor happened to watch Frankfurt's Lions rout Düsseldorf's Panthers, 38-0). A year later, Germany's American football association AFVD was created and about a decade after that, America launched the NFL Europe, which experienced a boom in popularity in the 1990s. Germany had the most teams — five — and showed the most enthusiasm for the sport. But financial losses and decreasing interest by NFL to stem them spelled the end of the league in 2007.

American football remains one of the most popular sports watched on German TV after soccer, and the NFL is reported to be considering holding one of its pre-season games in the country.

John Blau is a senior editor with Handelsblatt Global. To contact the author: [email protected]