Donte Whitner’s name change to ‘Hitner’ is completely lame

This is the now-Donte Hitner at a Victoria's Secret Cocktail Viewing Party last year. Credit: Getty Images
This is the now-Donte Hitner at a Victoria’s Secret Cocktail Viewing Party last year. Credit: Getty Images

Several years back I worked as a copy editor for a baseball card company. Yes, it was mostly as fun as it sounds. Look up stats and write funky bios of pro athletes all day. Living the dream of an 11-year-old boy from 1993 … and getting paid like an 11-year-old boy from 1993.

The problem is, most children in this particular century have no use for anything made out of cardboard and putting that junk in your bicycle spokes these days has to be considered some sort of hazard by the millions of overbearing parents in this country. Needless to say, said card company isn’t exactly raking in money in 2013.

One of the best moments from working there came on Sept. 5, 2008, just ahead of the start of the 2008 NFL season. The company-wide e-mail read:

Subject: Chad Ocho Cinco
> Sent: Friday, Sept. 5 8:24am
>
> It has been confirmed with Players Inc that since this was a legal name change, Chad Johnson should be known as Chad Ocho Cinco moving forward.
>
> Michael– please update his name in Tracker. The changes that we will be able to make should be available to you in our system by Monday morning. Please advise ASAP.
>
> Seth – the auto cards you receive for that form have already been produced or are in production will say Chad Johnson. But again, with all new forms we must go with Chad Ocho Cinco.
>
> Thanks,
Jackie Sullivan

At the time, Chad Johnson was my hero. He stiffed The Man in the best possible way. He changed his name. If you remember, at the time, the NFL and the Bengals were greatly upset at Johnson’s attention-grabbing incidents – namely, the time he put the “Ocho Cinco” moniker on the back of his jersey with then-quarterback Carson Palmer ripping it off just prior to kickoff.

Johnson’s name change was inventive. It was brilliant. It was anti-establishment. And, most importantly, it pissed off Roger Goodell.

The change worked so well that at some point in the following five years everyone in America became so used to Johnson being referred to as “Ochocinco” that when Johnson changed his name back to Johnson recently, most people refused and stuck with “Ochocinco,” just because.

Now, changing names in sports and entertainment is nothing new. Sean Combs is Diddy today (I think). Beyonce went through that whole Sasha Fierce phase. Muhammad Ali was Cassius Clay. Metta World Peace was Ron Artest. The Sex Genius was R. Kelly. You know them all.

But what happens when a relative no-name in sports/entertainment changes his name and that name change isn’t all that clever or all that cool? You get the name “Donte Hitner.” Changed from Whitner. Close to Hitler. But supposed to imply “Hit” as in “I hit hard” or “The NFL no longer allows big hits.” Get it? No? Yes?


Now, Whitner Hitner is a fine player in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl just last year. But he also plays defensive back in a pop culture sports climate that only knows offensive fantasy studs. He’s in no way Darrelle Revis. He’s not even Nnamdi Asomugha in terms of mainstream relevance. And this name change won’t get him there.

Name changes in sports should only be left to transcendent figures (like Ali) or complete nut jobs that are already famous (like World Peace).

My guess is that when Joe Buck shouts out “a big hit by Hitner” a couple weeks down the road, no one will think twice. Not because of the Ochocinco effect noted above, but because “Donte Hitner” sounds like something close to a normal name for any pro defensive back.

Hail Hitner for this move? No thanks.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.

News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Television

'Game of Thrones' livens up Comic Con with…

By Piya Sinha-RoySAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Laughter and death did battle on Friday at HBO's "Game of Thrones" panel at Comic Con, one of the…

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.