One of the biggest transactions in the NFL during the offseason was when the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins, one of the league’s best wide receivers, to the Cardinals for a package that included veteran RB David Johnson.
Despite spending the first seven years of his career on a team that hasn’t had much playoff success, Hopkins is a household name among football fans. His nickname, Nuk, is also well-known, but how he got the name isn’t and the origin of Hopkins’ nickname will probably surprise you.
DeAndre Hopkins’ Texans career
The Houston Texans took Hopkins in the first round, No. 27 overall, in the 2013 NFL draft, and they definitely got their money worth with him as a late first-round pick. He played 110 games in his seven years in Houston, grabbing 632 receptions for 8,602 yards and 54 touchdowns.
In six playoff games, he caught 37 of his 61 targets, totaling 446 yards with one touchdown. He is a four-time Pro Bowler who was part of the league’s 2013 All-Rookie Team. Hopkins led the NFL with 13 receiving touchdowns in 2017, and he is just outside the top 100 all-time with the 54 touchdown catches he had in a Texans uniform.
Making his stats in Houston more impressive is the list of quarterbacks he played with before the Texans drafted Deshaun Watson in 2017 — a list that includes Matt Schaub, Brian Hoyer, and Brock Osweiler.
DeAndre Hopkins is traded to the Cardinals
Hopkins became a Cardinal the off season, when the Texans traded him and a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft to Arizona for Johnson, a second-round pick this year, and a fourth in 2021. On September 8, just before the regular season started, the Cardinals gave Hopkins a two-year extension worth $54.5 million, which will keep the wide receiver on the team through the 2024 season, if he doesn’t exercise his opt-out after the 2022 campaign.
Hopkins has gotten off to a good start with his new team. In his first three games of 2020, he has been targeted 37 times and has caught the ball 32 times. He has totaled 356 receiving yards so far, with one touchdown.
Through Week 3, he is the league leader in receptions and receiving yards, giving the Cardinals a much-needed bump in the receiving corps as future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald winds down his career and sees his production drop as he gets older.
The origin of Hopkins’ nickname
Most football fans know that DeAndre Hopkins’ nickname is Nuk — pronounced “nuke” — but a lot of them probably think it may have something to do with his play on the gridiron.
Given his original Twitter handle, @nukdabomb, some might think the nickname has an origin that has to do with nuclear bombs. That’s not the case, though. In fact, Hopkins has been called Nuk since he was young — and he got the moniker from his mother, as CBS Sports tells us.
When he was a child, Hopkins would only use one brand of pacifier — and that brand was NUK. Because of his insistence on sucking on the NUK pacifiers, Hopkins’ mother gave him that as a nickname, and it has stuck with him as he got older, and it remains in place as he cements himself as one of the best NFL players of his generation.
Looking ahead for the Cardinals
Hopkins never made it out of the divisional round of the playoffs with the Texans, but he’s hoping to do that in Arizona has he begins that chapter of his career. The team is off to a 2-1 start after finishing 2019 at 5-10-1. The team, under second-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, is looking to have its first winning season — and playoff appearance — since 2015.
There’s still a long way to go, but with the combination of Kyler Murray and Hopkins leading the way in the passing game, the Cardinals may have a good chance to achieve those goals.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference