The Los Angeles Rams released wide receiver Nick Toon on Thursday, decreasing the odds that his two-year NFL career will continue, and likely condemning him to an eternal barrage of puns on the name of a popular children’s television programming block.
“I thought if I could get 400, maybe 500 receptions in my career, I could overcome it. I mean, no one makes fun of Perry Ellis or Milton Bradley. But I have 17 receptions, and I didn’t even play last season. Maybe I could get back into the league if I had a jetpack or something, but that only happens in car– oh.”
Toon insisted he has much more to offer than his name, as shouts of “Hey, Arnold!” echoed in the streets. “I’m thinking about going back to get my degree in astrophysics,” said the guy who probably wears the same outfit every day and never visibly ages. “In my spare time, I’m a poet. I work with underprivileged kids at the Boys & Girls Club.” When we said our goodbyes and he disappeared behind the door of his self-built, solar-powered home, it was as if the animator stopped drawing him entirely.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Toon, as younger, faster receivers enter the NFL’s talent pool, and CGI technology continues to crowd out hand-drawn animation. “I was really hoping Disney Channel would take some of the attention away,” Toon said during our interview. “But then ‘Hannah Montana’ took off, and Disney was all live-action sitcoms, and the cartoons fell to… those guys who must not be named.”
Nick’s father, Al, who played eight seasons in the NFL, blames multiple concussions and the 1990s takeoff of cable for what he calls a “mishap” in choosing his son’s name. “We mostly just watched CBS, so it never occurred to me,” he said. Indeed, when the 1991 explosion of “Rugrats” brought Nickelodeon into the national spotlight, it really threw Al Toon a curve.
Dustin Petzold is the editor-in-chief of Crooked Scoreboard and mostly just watched “Arthur” as a kid. You should follow Crooked Scoreboard on Twitter.
Nate Koehler is a cartoonist and illustrator from Madison, WI, so he’s probably really tired of these jokes. You should follow him on Twitter, too.