San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner, who has a reputation for slamming hard into opposing players, has run into a rather costly snag to change his last name to “Hitner."
Whitner, 28, announced on Wednesday that he’s filed the necessary paperwork to change his last name to “Hitner,” after the NFL fined him $21,000 for an illegal hit against the St. Louis Rams. However, a new report suggests that Whitner will have to wait at least a month -- and pay quite a bit of money to Nike -- if he intends to go through with the name change.
The NFL requires players to legally change their name before it will allow them to wear the new name on the back of their jersey, TMZ reports. Whitner, who is originally from Ohio, is subject to that state’s laws regarding name changes.
Ohio requires applicants to publish any name changes in a “widely circulated publication,” TMZ notes. In addition, would-be name changers have to wait 30 days after the date of publication before a judge can agree to the change. Court officials reportedly told TMZ that the process usually takes at least six weeks in Ohio.
Furthermore, Whitner would have to contend with the NFL’s partnership with Nike, the company responsible for manufacturing the league’s official game uniforms. An NFL representative confirmed to TMZ that the football player would have to purchase Nike’s entire remaining stock of “Whitner” jerseys before he’d be allowed to wear “Hitner” on the back of his uniform.
If Whitner is willing to pay Nike and wait out the Ohio court process, TMZ speculates that he’ll be ready to debut his new name in time for the 49ers’ Nov. 17 game against the New Orleans Saints. Whitner reportedly confirmed on Wednesday that he’d agree to pay for Nike’s remaining inventory “depending on how many there are,” CSNBayArea.com reported.
"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," Whitner told the website.
Whitner’s planned name change may have encountered a few hurdles, but his team appears to support the move. The 49ers have already posted a “preview” of what the safety would look like in a “Hitner” jersey to its Twitter page.