In a country with a long history of immigration, sports have become a way for people from all walks of life to come together.
Nothing levels the playing field more than screaming at your favorite players, or perhaps the refs, with your fellow fans.

However, Americans find it difficult to cheer on some of their favorite players when they have difficulty decoding their names. In football, tackling the players on the field can sometimes seem easier than pronouncing their names.

To gauge which names gave American football fans a false start, we dug into Google Search data to determine which NFL players have the hardest names to pronounce.

Key Findings

  • The three names Americans have the hardest time pronouncing are Tua Tagovailoa (Samoan origin), Brett Favre (French origin), and Travis Kelce (Polish origin).
  • Names of French (6), German (3), and Samoan (3) origins are the most challenging for Americans.

The 25 Most Mispronounced Names in Football

Remembering the roster when it has some of the hardest names to pronounce can seem rigorous, but real fans do their research ahead of game time. We conducted a Google search analysis of 1,500 names of active and retired American professional football players that people consider difficult to pronounce.

We analyzed several variations on search terms such as “How do you pronounce [Name]” and “[Name] pronunciation” to find as many questions about these players’ names as possible. The names with the highest monthly search volume were considered the most difficult to pronounce.

Photo: Preply

The three most challenging names to pronounce are Tua Tagovailoa (Samoan origin), Brett Favre (French origin), and Travis Kelce (Polish origin).

Other names that fans tend to fumble are Ndamukong Suh (Cameroonian), Colin Kaepernick (German), and Younghoe Koo (Korean). Players’ names of French (6), German (3), and Samoan (3) origins are the most challenging to pronounce.

Football’s Connection to Immigration

Players come to America from around the world to play major sports like basketball and baseball, yet, historically, not many come solely to play American football. In fact, in 2017, the National Football League (NFL) had just under 3% of its players hailing from countries outside of America.

On the hunt for international all-star talent, the NFL instituted the International Player Pathway program in 2017. Recognizing the need to attract elite athletes from around the world to train and play in the NFL, the league implemented this program to reach out beyond America’s borders and increase its number of international athletes.

However, the amount of names with international origins in the NFL speaks to the history of immigration in America.


Whether you’re a native speaker or still learning English online, pronouncing names you’re unfamiliar with can be challenging.

Thankfully, the right answer is just a Google search away, so next time you’re watching the game, you can impress your friends with your player knowledge.


On October 4, 2022, we used Google AdWords to analyze the search volume for 1,500 active and retired NFL players’ names, and question stems like “how to pronounce” and “how do you pronounce.”

We then consolidated all the search terms by player name and ranked them according to their average monthly search volume. The names with the highest search volume are considered the most difficult for American fans to pronounce.

Featured Image: Preply

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