In an effort to convince the NFL and improve its calling of illegal hits, San Francisco Saftery Donte Whitner is taking matters into his own hand, saying this week that he is legally changing his name, from Whitner to ‘Hit’ner, partly as a protest of what he thinks are unjust penalties that have been called against him over the past two weeks. He was fined $21,000 two days ago for a Week 4 hit.
Niners defensive co-ordinator Vic Fangio said he thought they were “good hits” In Week 3, Whitner was called for using the crown of his helmet, but the NFL later admitted that it was a clean hit.
“They need to err on the correct side, not on the safe side,” Fangio said. “Because if it is an illegal hit, the guy will get fined on Monday or Tuesday. If you miss it as an official, that doesn’t mean that it’s over and done with. … The part that’s hard about it all is the league has instructed officials to err on the side of caution, so they’re going to throw the flag no matter what.”
Fangio said often “great” defensive plays initially look illegal and he thinks that’s why officials have been quick to throw penalty flags with such an emphasis on safety.
Fangio was asked his thoughts on Whitner’s pending name change.
“He did not consult me before he made that decision,” Fangio said.
For what it’s worth, Whitner tweeted Thursday that he will go back to “Whitner” when his NFL career is over.
The hope as of yesterday was to have the name on the back of his jersey ‘edited’ before Sunday night’s game against the Texans, but admitted that that request might be a tad unrealistic.
“That’s what I do. It’s my last name and removing a letter makes it pretty cool,” he said, adding that some fans already call him “Hitner” anyway.
Anyone who thought that all the talk about a name change to something that boldly resembles the name of the late German dictator, may have been a joke, it may have been one at first but according to league sources, when the bill for the name change comes to (to Donte) it will not be a laughing matter
The name change will not be cheap for Whitner. A league official told ESPN’s Darren Rovell that NFL rules stipulate that if a player changes his name during an NFL season, he is required to purchase all the remaining inventory of merchandise with the old name that hasn’t been sold.
Whitner said Wednesday he’d be willing to pay for the remaining No. 31 49ers jerseys in Nike’s inventory “depending on how many there are,” according to CSNBayArea.com.
“I haven’t seen a whole lot around Candlestick, so I wouldn’t think there should be [many jerseys in stock], unless somebody’s hiding them,” he said, according to the website.
The 49ers posted a preview of what Whitner’s new jersey would look like on their Twitter account.
Whitner also said he had considered the name change in the offseason but that his mother wouldn’t go for it.
Apparently, she has changed her mind.
“I’m forever going to be her son and her little boy, so I have to listen to what she says,” Whitner said. “After all of these hits and people talking about it, I asked her again three nights ago. She said, ‘I don’t have a problem with it, go ahead.’ So I went ahead and did it yesterday.”
Whitner has been critical of the NFL’s crackdown on hits and has said “it seems like on any big hit, they make the call on what the hit looks like.”
The safety, who also has suggested the NFL should use replay to determine if hits warrant penalties, said his name change is a protest against the league’s mandate in “the right way.”
“I’m not out there head-hunting, hitting guys helmet to helmet. I want to show guys can hit hard and bring fear doing it the legal way,” he said.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who spoke yesterday (Wednesday) before Whitner addressed the media, was unaware of his safety’s name change, but quarterback Colin Kaepernick was a fan of the move.
“It’s kind of catchy … Good change,” he said.
Whitner said he was fined for his hit on Rams receiver Chris Givens in the end zone with just less than six minutes to play in the 49ers’ 35-11 victory. He said he will appeal the fine because he “lowered my shoulder and went for the midsection, where the ball was.”
Whitner appeared to turn his shoulder into Givens in a successful attempt to knock the ball loose. He was called for unnecessary roughness.
He has made up T-shirts with #LegalHitner on the front that he will sell to drum up support. He said he’s produced about 125 T-shirts and will soon open for business.
Re-ignites the debate, who has the best name change in pro sports?
-Ron artest-metta world peace