From Ochocinco to Johnson again: Athletes playing the name game

The Ochocinco era is over after NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco legally changed his name back to Chad Johnson earlier this week. Photo by: Clay Seal / Flickr


When I read that a certain out spoken NFL wide receiver was changing his legal name back to Chad Johnson, I couldn’t resist doing a little research.

That’s right folks the Ochocinco era is officially over and perhaps the shenanigans that came with the name are coming to an end, too. Johnson made the name swap Monday morning so his brand new wife wouldn’t be burdened with any sort of silliness attached to the Ochocinco title, which proves that Johnson just might be growing up. Does that mean we should expect a new level of maturity from Johnson next season?

I won’t put my foot in my mouth and say Johnson will return to his old football form and his off-the-field antics will completely come to a screeching halt. But I have to believe we will see a new and improved Johnson next season. Consider what Johnson has been through for the past year. He had his worst season ever statistically and wasn’t exactly the most sought after wide receiver in the free agent market this offseason. In addition to those eye openers, Johnson also tied the knot with Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozada. With the name change and what could be his final year to prove himself, I think we will see a Johnson that we’ve never seen before. 

Johnson definitely isn’t the only notable athlete to change his name, either. There are actually a surprising amount of  jocks that have re-identified themselves legally. Most did it because of religion while others — like Johnson — probably did it for attention. Johnson said he did it to honor Hispanic Heritage Month, but I’m certianly not buying that. So after finding some other more famous name changes, I have formulated an opinion about a chosen few that have nothing to do with religion. Here’s a look at those particular athletes:

• Dominic Williams aka Dominic Davis: This is actually a name change that is touching. The former Houston Texans running back did it to honor his mother. You also have to like the literation in his new name, which is also why I can’t argue this decision one bit. You’ve heard of people naming their children after their grandparents or even the popular junior, right? This is no different.

• Bison Dele aka Brian Williams: I can’t really knock on this swap, either. Dele changed his name to honor both his African and Native American heritage — you can guess which name is for which ancestry. His name change also makes sense because we really don’t need another Brian Williams out there.

• Nene aka Maybyner “Nene” Hillario: I’m assuming Nene, which is Portuguese for baby, was his childhood nickname or something. When Nene came into the league I loved his name as a while — when Hillario was attached to it. Heck, the name Maybyner is even growing on me … perhaps I’ll name my first born that. But to get back on base, this name swap was a legal move for Nene’s ego. The Washington Wizards center is a native of Brazil and the actual reason of why he changed his name was to be known by just a single word, like soccer star Pele, a fellow Brazilian. Look, he’s not Pele or even Ichiro for that matter. Nene needs to make an All-Star team before thinking he is in the same league as athletes who are so good they’re known by just one name.

• Stylez G. White aka Greg White: The name Greg White is just too simple. Why not spice it up to something and styling as Stylez G. Now that’s cool. Except that this Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman apparently changed his name to Stylez in honor of Jerry Levine’s character in the 1985 hit, Teen Wolf. Now that;s just ridiculous. For one, Teen Wolf is now a teen bop series on MTV where yes, there is a character named “Stiles” — he didn’t even spell it right. Secondly, although Teen Wolf the movie was incredibly awesome, the character “Stiles” was a tool. All he did was follow around Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox) like a little puppy … no pun intended. Stylez G. White needs to make better choices in regard to his role models.

Metta World Peace aka Ron Artest: This name change made no sense to me. The meaning of World Peace’s name is hoping for World Peace. Seriously? I mean come on we’re talking about a guy who jumped into a crowd full of NBA fans and let his fists fly. He is know more or less as a dirty player, not a man of World Peace. Although I like the meaning behind the name, this World Peace doesn’t deserve it.


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