Andy Dalton’s ‘Red Rifle’ Nickname May Be Appealing to Some, But He’s Not Too Fond of It

With Dak Prescott out for the season, Andy Dalton has emerged as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. This is Dalton’s first season with the Cowboys as he spent his first nine seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Dalton will look to lead the Cowboys to the playoffs this season. There might be some ‘Red Rifle’ references as that is the nickname that Dalton has had since his college days.

Andy Dalton was a standout quarterback in college

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Dalton, a native of Texas, attended Texas Christian University and starred at quarterback. During his time at TCU, he dominated the Mountain West Conference. In his four years at TCU, he was a two-time Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. He threw for over 2,000 yards each season. Dalton led TCU to an 11-2 record during his junior year and a seventh-place finish in the AP Polls. He finished his junior year throwing for 2,857 yards and 27 touchdowns.

During the 2009 season, Dalton led TCU to a memorable season. TCU finished with a 12-0 record, a Mountain West Conference Championship, a No. 6 ranking in the AP Poll, and a BCS berth. TCU lost to Boise State 17-10 in the Fiesta Bowl that season. The next season Dalton continued to lead TCU to success. He recorded his 30th victory on September 4, 2010, and became TCU’s all-time wins leader. TCU finished with a perfect season going 13-0 and were the No. 2 in the final AP Poll. Dalton capped off his college career with a victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl game.

He finished his college career throwing for 10,314 yards and 71 touchdowns. There was a reason why he was nicknamed ‘Red Rifle‘ because of his ability to throw the ball and his red hair. That nickname would stick with him throughout college and even when he entered the NFL.

A look at Dalton’s career in Cincinnati

The Bengals drafted Dalton in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. He immediately became the starting quarterback his rookie season. He had an impressive rookie season finishing with 3,398 passing yards with 20 touchdowns. Dalton was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and he and Cam Newton became the first pair of rookie quarterbacks to make the Pro Bowl in the same season. 

In his first four seasons in Cincinnati, he led the Bengals to the playoffs, and they were one of the top teams in the AFC. Though Dalton had experience in the playoffs, he posted an 0-4 record, and Cincinnati fans were not pleased with that record. Dalton continued to put up impressive numbers during his time in Cincinnati, but they weren’t good enough to lead the Bengals to deep runs in the playoffs. In April of 2020, the Bengals decided to release Dalton as they wanted to go in a different direction at the quarterback position. The Bengals drafted Joe Burrow with the first pick in the 2020 NFL draft, and Dalton ended up signing with the Cowboys.

Andy Dalton not too fond of his ‘Red Rifle’ nickname

Dalton spoke out on his nickname ‘Red Rifle.’ In an interview with NFL Total Access, Dalton expressed how he felt about the nickname. “It’s alright. It seems like everybody is going to find a nickname with ‘red’ or something for my hair. So, the Red Rifle is alright,” he said. Based on his response, he’s not too thrilled about the nickname, and when asked what he would like to be called, his response was simple. “Andy. Andy works. It’s just Andy,” he said.

There was an incident in Dalton’s career where he stuck up for his nickname. In 2015, the Bengals lost a game to the Houston Texans, and J.J. Watt had a smart comment about Dalton’s nickname. After that game, Watt said their goal was “to come out here and make the Red Rifle look like a Red Ryder BB gun.” Dalton was not pleased with Watt’s comment, and he made that known. 

“It’s disappointing for one of the best players in this league to come out and say something like that,” Dalton said. “That’s all I’m going to say about that. I think J.J.’s a good player. But for him to be one of the best in this league and to show that integrity, it shows what he’s about, which is disappointing.” After that response, Dalton did say that there was no feud or anything between him and Watt. Now that he’s the starting quarterback for Dallas, there may be more ‘Red Rifle’ references soon.