Sports Figures Who Should Change Their Names

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2013

Sports Figures Who Should Change Their Names

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    In light of the news that San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner is prepared to legally change his last name to "Hitner," I thought it be a good idea to see which other sports figures should consider a name change.

    Why should they changes their names? For some, it's because of the unfortunate pairings of the first and last names. For others, their names are too difficult to spell—or even pronounce—correctly. And a few have names that make you think of something unrelated to sports.

    Here are 25 people in sports who should follow Whitner, err...Hitner's lead and change their names.

Richie Incognito

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    His inclusion here has nothing to say about him or his ability. As a Miami Dolphins guard, Richie Incognito made the Pro Bowl last season. Rather, he is listed here because of his appearance.

    He is a massive 6'3" and 319 pounds, so being incognito is the least likely thing to happen to him.

Maria Sharapova

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    Her name might be omnipresent in tennis circles—and in guys' minds, thanks to her model looks—but Maria Sharapova became dangerously close to renaming herself "Maria Sugarpova," after rumors swirled about her trying to promote her candy company.

    I don't know about you, but I think the last name would have been fitting, seeing how both her game and sexiness are sweet.

Haloti Ngata

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    If you're a Baltimore Ravens fan, pronouncing the name of four-time Pro Bowl defender Haloti Ngata probably isn't too difficult for you.

    He is one of the most dominant interior linemen in the NFL, so quarterbacks and offensive linemen know damn well who he is.

    Trying to spell out his last last name, though, is a whole new ballgame. It's not at all spelled the way you think it would be.

Dustin Byfuglien

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    It's a good thing that Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien's nickname is "Big Buff." Otherwise, not many people would ever talk to the guy.

    Actually, I wonder if that's why he's such a frightening defender in the first place. Maybe he takes out all the pent-up aggression he had from people misspeaking his name while growing up.

    Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Ndamukong Suh

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    I'd never say it to his face, but it might be time for Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to consider changing his last name.

    When you consider he's one of the most aggressive players in the league—racking up a crazy amount of fines in the past few years—maybe his name should be something like, "Ndamukong Suh-perior Amount of Fines."

    It might be a lot longer, but I think it's appropriate.

Didier Drogba

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    Talking here with his manager Roberto Mancini, Galatasaray S.K. and Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba might be telling his head coach how to pronounce his name.

    The way that his name looks on paper and the way it's pronounced are two different things, which can cause confusion for fans of one of the former top players in the world.

Frostee Rucker

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    Maybe it's just the fat kid coming out in me, but the only things I can think of when I hear defensive end Frostee Rucker's name are those tasty, frozen, milkshake-type treats from Wendy's.

    As a matter of fact, I may just get one after mentioning him here.

    Besides the relation to a frozen dessert, his name isn't menacing at all for someone who is constantly in attack mode to sack quarterbacks—but at least he has a decent explanation for it.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic's full name might not be too hard to spell, but most soccer fans still just type "Zlatan" into Google searches since his last name is tricky.

    Although he disagrees on having a nickname, I'm glad most of us refer to him as "Ibra." Without it, he might never get as much publicity as he deserves for his play.

Tianlang Guan

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    Remember earlier this year when 14-year-old golfing sensation Tianlang Guan was getting international attention for being the youngest player to ever compete in a major championship when he teed it up at The Masters?

    Well, even after continuing that history by being the youngest to make the cut at the tourney, his name wasn't getting any easier for people to say, write or pronounce.

    That's probably why people refer to him as Langly instead.

Marouane Fellaini

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    If not for his crazy afro, no fan would probably know how to denote Manchester United and Belgium international Marouane Fellaini. His full name is nearly impossible to say, let alone spell.

    Although his 'do gives him a scary resemblance to Victor from Wet Hot American Summer, fans should thank him for maintaining it, or we would never know how to talk about him.

Coco Crisp

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    Seeing how Oakland A's outfielder Coco Crisp hasn't changed his name at this point, I'm not sure he'll ever consider doing so.

    He earned the moniker when he was bullied by his siblings as a child. Even so, I can't help but crave a giant bowl of the chocolaty cereal with the same name every time I think of this guy.

    For the sake of my weight, please change your name, Coco.

Mika Zibanejad

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    As crazy—and annoying—as it might be to even attempt saying or writing out Ottawa Senators center Mika Zibanejad's name, it's even the worst on his team.

    With guys like Jakob Silfverberg and Guillaume Latendresse, any announcer for Ottawa games better bring his A-game when it comes to pronunciation.

Radamel Falcao

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    After finishing third in La Liga in goals last season, it's no wonder that Atletico Madrid forward Radamel Falcao is garnering attention from major clubs like Real Madrid.

    With his popularity growing around the world, I hope fans learn how to say his name, because it doesn't just roll off the tongue.

Taco Charlton

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    As an Ohio State fan, I rarely rave about any player from "That School up North." In this case, however, I have to give credit to Michigan Wolverines player Taco Charlton for embracing his hilarious first name with his Twitter account, "The Supreme Taco."

    It makes me want to go to Taco Bell, though, so I wouldn't be too upset if he got rid of it.

Wojciech Szczesny

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    Honestly, any name with just one "z" in it is difficult to figure out. So Polish and Arsenal goalie Wojciech Szczesny having two is even trickier.

    The good news is that world football fans won't have to worry about saying it at next year's World Cup. His national team lost to England on Tuesday with a qualifying spot on the line.

Jakub Blaszczykowski

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    Wojciech Szczesny might not be the most difficult name to say on the Polish national team. That honor goes to Jakub Blaszczykowski.

    Dude, can't you make this easier on all of us and change your last name to something that isn't so tongue tied?

    He plays for German club team, Borussia Dortmund. Germans can't possibly say his name after all the pints they slam during games.

Mikhail Prokhorov

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    While being a billionaire may have been able to buy Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov an NBA team, there's not enough money in the world to make people say his name right on the first try—assuming they don't know who he is.

    I'm kind of a major bro, so maybe something like "Mikhail BRO-horov" is something that would go over smoothly among basketball fans.

HaHa Clinton-Dix

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    I don't even know how to take Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix seriously with his first name the way it is.

    As if HaHa isn't comical enough, having his last name hyphenated just makes the whole thing  funny to look at.

    I bet Tide head coach Nick Saban is laughing at his star defender right now, who is currently suspended from the team.

Tokyo Sexwale

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    Few of you know who Tokyo Sexwale is, but with a name like that, maybe you should.

    A member of FIFA's Fair Play Committee, Sexwale's last name might be pronounced "seh-wa-le," but at first glance, it's not exactly what enters the mind.

    He's been successful in his career, so what do I know? I just think having the name of a major city as a first name and a somewhat sexual-looking last name is a little much.

Captain Munnerlyn

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    I was an English major in college and am a big fan of the Dead Poets Society, so I can't help but think of one very famous scene from the movie every time I see Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn's name.

    Whenever sports fans think of Robin Williams during a football game, it can't be a good thing.

God'sgift Achiuwa

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    While some people poked fun of current Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless' tricep tattoos, there's actually an athlete who may have been more worthy of the ink.

    That would be St. John's big man God'sgift Achiuwa, who has one of the more unique names in sports.

    That said, introducing yourself as "God's Gift" probably doesn't go over too well most of the time.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos

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    One of my favorite places to eat late night after a long day of drinking is the Greek restaurant "Athens," but Greek names are not as good as the native food.

    No one proves that better than national team member Sokratis Papastathopoulos. His name might be funny to hear announcers say, but unless you're copying and pasting it, you probably dislike writing it out as much as I do.

    His last name is so long that he just puts his first name on the back of his jersey.

Mike Krzyzewski

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    Besides John Wooden, no one has been a more influential college basketball presence than coach Mike Krzyzewski. But the one thing the former UCLA legend has over the current Duke coach is that "Wooden" is a lot easier to spell.

    Luckily he's known as "Coach K," because calling Duke's home floor "Coach Krzyzewski Court" doesn't have a ring to it.

Sjoerd Hamburger

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    When it comes to training for the Olympics, I have a hunch that Netherlands rower Sjoerd Hamburger didn't enjoy too many of the greasy snacks that share his last name.

    The guy's last name is "Hamburger." Do I really need to explain why he should consider changing it? By the way, I don't recommend it being changed to "Cheeseburger."

Dee Liner

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    Where does one start with current Alabama player Dee Liner's name?

    Whether coincidence or not, he plays along the defensive line, which makes me wonder if he is more a genius than anything else

    His real first name happens to be "Davion," but he has been called "Dee" ever since he was a tyke. I'm just glad he didn't end up as a quarterback. That would have made things a little confusing.