It’s based on his childhood dream of being a famous daredevil stuntman, a dream he can only live out today through his website, and on the 3rd Saturday of every month when he jumps his motorcycle over 15 helicopters piloted by man-eating crocodiles.
Here’s another instance about the origin story by John Gruber in The Big Web Show podcast back in January 2013:
When I was very young, first grade/kindergarten or something like that, in the late 70s, Evel Knievel used to have regular specials on ABC. He’d jump overseas fountains or trying to jump over Grand Canyon or something. And I loved Evel Knievel. I thought that was America – just great. A guy on a motorcycle doing crazy stuff.
And the first thing I ever would answer ‘What’d you wanna be when you grow up?’ was I wanted to be a daredevil stuntman. I wanted to get shot out of a canon. This is my idea – instead of a motorcycle, I would do like Evel Knievel except getting shot out of a canon. And instead of just being in a tent in a circus and getting shot in to a net, I would do like Evel Knievel, go to landmarks around the world and get shot over them or in to them or shoot myself into an open window on the 47th floor of the Empire State building. And I came up with the name Daring Fireball.
John Gruber probably called himself a Daring Fireball as a stuntman kid.
I drew in little notebooks with my [stuntman] costumes. I’m sure my Mom has them somewhere. The costume was just a complete rip off of Evel Knievel combined with the Dallas Cowboys. Just stark blue and stars and circles. I think it was second grade when I had to do a report on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I went to the library and there was a kids book on circus performers or something like that.
There was a page on a guy who gets shot out of a canon and I read it and it said that it’s not really an explosion but a spring loaded thing and that’s the trick in all these canons. It’ll kill you if it was a real canon. The spring-loaded thing shoots them up but it is very, very hard on your body because there’s an enormous amount of stress. The performers frequently have terrible back and knee problems. And over the course of their brief careers getting shot of canons in the circus, they lose about an inch or two in your height because all of the discs in your back compress and you lose all the cartilage in your knees and I thought well that’s it for that.
But I remember I did the report and concluded, well, ‘hell, I’m not gonna do that – that’s terrible’, but I always thought Daring Fireball was pretty cool sounding name. So I filed it away and thought someday I’ll have a use for it.
About the thought behind the Daring Fireball logo:
It’s just the idea, whatever I had on the side of my helmet when I was plotting my career as a stuntman in the first grade.
The meaning behind the Daring Fireball name is a kindled story and I’m fascinated with it.