The Collegian
Saturday, September 24, 2022

No, really, what's your name?

The first thing about James Madison University's kick and punt returner that caught my attention was not his game-winning touchdown, but his name.

The James Madison sports editor and I were looking at each other's rosters, and I exclaimed in shock, "Wait, there's actually somebody named Scotty McGee?!" It's a name I've heard many times when someone needs a generic name, like John Doe.

The James Madison sports editor said people often asked him about McGee's name, and I started to think about some of the more ridiculous names I've heard while watching sports. Obviously, this year's most popular candidate is Chad Johnson, the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver who legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco because his number is 85.

Not only was this one of the strangest name changes since Lloyd Bernard Free became "World B. Free" in 1980, but it isn't even accurate. I've never taken a day of Spanish in my life, but even I know that "ocho cinco" means "eight five" and not 85.

Wanting a name like Ocho Cinco is weird, but what's even worse are the people who should get name changes to avoid the ridicule from the names their parents gave them. If I ever get a job in broadcast journalism, I'll have a lot of difficult-to-pronounce names to add, but until then, here's my list of the top 10 funniest names in sports:

10. Joey Goodspeed, a 30-year-old running back for the Minnesota Vikings. A relatively mild concern, considering the most unusual thing about the name Joey is that it is also a term for a baby kangaroo. It figures that someone named Goodspeed would become an NFL running back.

9. Peerless Price, a 31-year-old wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. Most people use baby name books if they're having trouble coming up with options. Apparently Price's mother named him based on a name she saw on the side of a moving truck. To each her own, I guess.

8. Picabo Street, a 37-year-old former U.S. Olympic skier. This is what happens when your parents are hippies who decide not to give you a name and call you "little girl" for the first two years of your life. It's pronounced like "peek-a-boo," which she loved to play as a child, and it is also a town in her home state of Idaho, which is why her parents gave her that name when she was two.

Picabo means "shining waters" in the language of the Sho-Ban, a Native American tribe that used to live in the Picabo region of Idaho. When Picabo was 4, her parents told her she could change her name, but she decided to keep it.

7. Apolo Ohno, a 26-year-old former short-track skater for the U.S. Olympic team. It would be one thing if he were named after Apollo, the Greek God, but he's not even that lucky.

His father combined the Greek words "Ap," meaning "steering away from" and lo, meaning "look out, here he comes," when naming him. Unfortunately, Ohno's other options are his middle name, Anton, which means priceless, and Chunkie, a nickname he earned as a child because he was one of his roller skating team's heavier skaters.

6. Milton Bradley, a 30-year-old designated hitter for the Texas Rangers. Is he a baseball player or a maker of board games? He's actually Milton Bradley Jr., and his mother didn't want her son to be Milton Bradley, too. But while she was still under anesthesia, Milton Bradley Sr. signed the birth certificate. You know what they say: misery loves company.

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5. Coco Crisp, a 28-year-old center fielder for the Boston Red Sox. His full name is Covelli Loyce Crisp, but his grandmother liked to call him "Co" and his siblings were brilliant enough to start calling him Coco and elicit comparisons to Cocoa Krispies. When he was in the minor leagues, he said his nickname was Coco, and the name stayed with him into the major leagues.

4. Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish, an 82-year-old former pitcher whose major league career began in 1944 and ended in 1964. He was one of eight children, but he was the only one his father got to name, and it seems the elder McLish got a bit carried away.

He is named for a former U.S. president, a roman emperor and a town in his home state of Oklahoma, but the name most people used for him was "Bus" or "Buster." Weren't six names enough?

These last top three are really more than three, but because they're grouped by family, I decided to keep them together, especially because not all of them are athletes. Just like Milton Bradley Sr., some people just don't know when to stop.

3. Majestic Mapp, a 27-year-old former guard for the University of Virginia. His older brother, Scientific, was a guard at Florida A&M University. Majestic's injuries kept him off the basketball court, but his name made him and his older brother legends.

2. Yourhighness Morgan, a 28-year-old former linebacker who committed to Florida Atlantic University. I've read about his high school accolades, but I haven't found any stats on his collegiate career, and everything still lists him as a freshman ... looks as if he had a hard time living up to his name.

He sometimes goes by "YH" or "Hiney." His brother's name is Handsome and he has two cousins named Prince and Gorgeous ... do I really need to say any more?

1. I.M. Hipp, a 42-year-old former walk-on running back at the University of Nebraska who played one year for the Oakland Raiders in 1980. His full name is Isaiah Moses Walter Hipp ... I can understand why he'd want a nickname, but did he really have to pick such a narcissistic one?

And what's even more sad is that he didn't have the sense to stop there - he named his son Exree, pronounced like "x-ray." Exree played basketball for the University of Maryland at College Park from 1992 to 1996, and he later played for the Harlem Globetrotters.

That's all for this edition of "What were your parents thinking?" I apologize if I left out any of your favorites - I know there are many more deserving athletes out there.

The good news is that if we know about them, they're probably pretty talented athletes, so you don't have to feel too bad about their names. And now, I'm going to go call my parents and apologize for all the times I've complained to them the past 20 years because they chose to call me Barrett, my middle name and usually a boy's name ... I now realize it could have been much worse.

Contact staff writer Barrett Neale at barrett.neale@richmond.edu

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