Donte Whitner set to become Donte Hitner

San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner warms up before his game with the Indianapolis Colts. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner is joining an elite interesting group of professional athletes with his latest stunt, dropping the ‘W’ off his last name in order to become one with his on-field persona, Donte Hitner.

Hitner will now inevitably be mentioned in the same breath as Chad Ochocinco and Metta World Peace among others as high-profile athletes that changed their names in a publicity stunt to gain fame with their fans.

Whitner, who was fined $21,000 for an illegal hit last week, has been known in the Bay Area as Hitner for a while now, but decided to make the legal change after what he believed was ridiculous disciplining by the NFL.  

“Yeah, it’s legal,” Whitner said. “I’m taking the ‘W’ off. H-I-T-N-E-R.”

That’s right. His new legal name will be Donte Hitner, and he hopes to have it become official with his new name on the back of his 49ers jersey for the team’s Oct. 13 game against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park.

Hitner now faces a similar dilemma to Ochocinco, as he might have to buy all of Nike’s ‘Whitner’ jerseys before they agree to print his new moniker (Ocho eventually waited until the offseason because the move could have cost up to $4 million).

Unlike Ochocinco, who was one of the league’s most popular players at the time of his name change, Whitner’s name doesn’t carry nearly the star-power, or therefore the volume of jerseys, which could make it possible for him to make the move in-season.

More important than Nike’s approval though was the blessing from his mother.

Maybe moms really do know best, or maybe she just needed a new jersey.

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