What's in a nickname?

ESPN.com featured another article today about the dilemmas of Chad Ocho Cinco. I have to chuckle every time I see these articles. In case you have not followed the saga, let me get you up to speed. Last year the Cincinnati Bengals had a receiver named Chad Johnson. His jersey number was 85. Thanks to the number, his nickname became "Ocho Cinco" spanish for "Eight Five" (note: note Eighty Five, but Eight Five). While the nickname is mildly clever, and has a certain ring to it, it is irregular for a nickname to have twice as many syllables as the name it replaces. But I digress. Anyway, Chad wanted to wear his nickname on his jersey, but the league required that players wear their real name on their jerseys.

So. Not to be out-witted, over the offseason Chad Johnson went to the Florida court system and legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco. Aha! Those wide receivers aren't as dumb as they look!

Now the league has said that he has to continue wearing "Johnson" jerseys this year because of merchandising contracts with Reebok, but next year he can wear Ocho Cinco on his jersey. However, It must be noted that this presents problems of its own.

Namely, if Ocho Cinco is his real name, then what will his nickname be? "Johnson?" Clearly one can't have ones real name be his nickname, else its not a nickname, its just a name. Besides, it will no longer be fun to call him Ocho Cinco, because its just his name, not a clever nickname. Also, this could begin a troubling precedent. If he is given a fun new nickname, will he just go change his name again?

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