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
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.