Unusual Athlete Name Changes

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Photo: Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group/MCT/Landov

Donte Hitner

(from Donte Whitner)

After he was fined $21,000 by the NFL for his Week 4 collision with St. Louis receiver Chris Givens, 49ers safety Donte Whitner designed a bunch of T-shirts (yours now for just $28!) with the hash tag #LegalHitner on them in protest. He then tweeted he would be officially removing the 'W' from his last name. Even if Whitner follows through on the name change (the 49ers say he has started the legal process, but nothing is finalized), the NFL will have to give the go-ahead on the switch regarding Whitner's jersey.

As Whitner, or Hitner, reminds us, names in sports are malleable objects. They are subject to the forces of Anglicization (Orestes "Minnie" Minoso), Braziliacization ("Pele"), typographical error (see the revised "Edinson" Volquez, with the correct two n's), religious conversion (Muhammad Ali), ostensible maturation (Adam "Don't Call Me Pacman" Jones) and holy matrimony (Justine Henin, then Henin-Hardenne, and now back again). Here are the more inspired renamings.

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