Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Terry Gene Bollea. Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Andre Rene Roussimoff. George Herman Ruth. Lew Alcindor. Cassius Clay. Earvin Johnson. Eldrick Woods Jr. Chris Jackson. Ron Artest. Chad Johnson. Brian Williams. Bobby Moore. Lloyd Bernard Free. Damon Jones. Donte Whitner?
Pseudonyms. Surnames. Mononyms. Bynames. Family names. Nicknames. Monikers. Stage-names. No-names. Most of the aforementioned men were game-changers; and/but, all of them were name-changers.
Last week, in an effort to raise media support - and notoriety - around his protest of a $21,000 fine for an illegal hit, San Francisco 49ers defensive back, Donte Whitner, began the steps to legally change his last name, dropping the "W" and changing his surname to "Hitner".
The NFL, in response, made Mr. [W]Hitner aware of a rule whereby a player changing their name in the middle of a season must purchase all already manufactured NFL merchandise bearing that player's pre-name-changed name.
Apparently, the relatively little-known [W]Hitner - acknowledging a general lacking of his jerseys in the souvenir shop at Candlestick Park - calculated the cost of buying-out any stock of previously-made Whitner jerseys would be palatable, and worth the out-of-pocket expense.
On a slightly off-topic, but somewhat related note, what if Johnny Manziel, in an effort to continue to be the poster-child for the needed revision to, and/or overhaul of, the NCAA's amateurism rules, decided he wanted to wear a different numbered jersey each and every week, so as to diminish the value and likelihood of any particularly-numbered jersey's sales, from which he is, by rule, unable to share in the revenues generated therefrom.?
Bynames are a historic device whereby, e.g. William who lives near the water's edge became known as "William (of the) Edgewater"; or, Steve who was the town blacksmith became known as "Steve (the) Smith". The usage of bynames became necessary and popular with the growth in population, stemming from a need for a way to identify individuals by and from among others with the same given or personal name. In time, many of these bynames became surnames or family names.
Pseudonyms, most often adopted by writers, are more commonly known as pen names. Though, in sports, stage-names, monikers and nicknames have nearly identical parallels to pseudonyms; particularly in e.g. professional wrestling, which is a somewhat unique amalgamation of sport and (meta)theater.
Names have meanings.
Some iconic athletes have changed their names mid-career, most notably upon conversion to The Nation of Islam.
Some less than iconic - but, in recent times, temporarily as (in)famous or notorious - athletes have changed their names mid-career for less socially or religiously motivated reasons, and for what seem to be far less well-thought-out or thought-full rationale.
Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul Jabbar - a Hall of Famer and ambassador of and for the game by either name.
Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali - either way, The Greatest.
Andre Rene Roussimoff ditching his family name for a more fitting byname as a stage-name to Andre the Giant, squaring-off for the better-part of a decade against Terry Gene Bollea's adopted alter-ego of Hulk Hogan, and the WWF skyrockets in popularity.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento's mononymous "Pele" - timeless.
George Herman Ruth's the "Babe"; Earvin Johnson's "Magic"; Eldrick Wood's Jr.'s "Tiger" - all much better served by adopting, or being given, monikers.
Chris Jackson's conversion to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Brian Willliams' switch to Bison Dele were respectable. But, Chad Johnson's cross-over to Chad Ochocinco only furthered the caricaturization of an already comical sports character.
Ron Artest's move to become Metta World Peace was equal parts accepted and explained by giving a nod to Artest's less than firm or constant relationship with reality (and sanity). Though, maybe Artest was paying homage to Lloyd Bernard Free's change to World B. Free (1981).
Damon Jones unwittingly became known as "Amon Ones" because he could not play D(efense) and had no J(ump-shot).
In some ways, Donte [W]Hitner is lucky he's a relative no-name by either name. He's also lucky the NFL, the very organization whose fine he is changing his name in protest of, felt compelled to make him aware of the rule requiring players changing their names in the middle of a season to purchase the already produced jerseys and products bearing their pre-change(d) name. Imagine if Ndamukong Suh or James Harrison decided to change their names mid-season in protest of a fine; and, if the NFL bit their tongue on the jersey-purchasing rule until such name changes were completed.?
As Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) said, "it is better to remain silent and to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." [Twain is also credited with saying, "suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself."]

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