CINCINNATI - Call him Ocho Cinco on the field, too.
The National Football League decided on Thursday to recognize receiver Chad Johnson’s legal name change to Chad Ocho Cinco. The new name will be on the back of his Cincinnati Bengals uniform for the season opener in Baltimore on Sunday.
The receiver had his name changed in his home state of Florida last week. It’s a reference to his uniform number — Ocho Cinco means “eight five” in Spanish. When the NFL celebrated Hispanic Heritage month in 2006, he wore it on the back of his uniform for pregame warmups, but had to remove it for the game because of NFL rules — it wasn’t his real name.
The Pro Bowl receiver asked the media to start calling him by his new name this week. The Bengals couldn’t change the name on his uniform until the NFL gave permission.
In an e-mail to The Associated Press on Thursday, league spokesman Greg Aiello said simply: “It’s his legal surname.”
The receiver has declined to talk about the motivation for his attention-getting change. Coach Marvin Lewis said the receiver had been considering it since last March.
The change to Ocho Cinco is the receiver’s latest promotional move. He’s also known for his touchdown celebrations, his golden Mohawk for one season, his race against a horse and his list of defensive backs who failed to cover him.
One of the most notable name promotions in pro football was running back Rod Smart’s decision to put “He Hate Me” on the back of his XFL jersey, which became the best seller in that league’s brief history. Smart trademarked the moniker but did not legally change his name, so he had to go by “Smart” when he made it to the NFL. He played for Philadelphia in 2001 and for Carolina from 2002-05.
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