SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14: Donte Whitner #31 of the San Francisco 49ers is introduced to the fans before the start of the Divisional Playoffs against the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 36-32. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
It may sound like a joke, but 49er Donte Whitner says it's the real deal. He is going to legally drop the "W" in his last name.
That would make the Pro Bowl safety Donte Hitner. Clearly a much more menacing name for a football position that is considered the last line of defense.
He told reporters he's filled out the paperwork, adding he'd like to get the name on the back of his uniform changed by Sunday's game. Whitner also confirmed the name-change story through both the team and through Twitter.
He said he had to clear it with his mother who said it was "ok" with her.
"I sent it to my lawyer and he filed it for me in Ohio," Whitner told 49ers.com. "Everything we do is for the fans right? It's all entertainment. We all understand that. It's entertainment, but that's what I do, it's my game. Along with some things that happened recently, that's why I went with it."
The move is part (if not all) marketing ploy. Whitner is promoting a T-shirt line that reads #LegalHitner. He offered two tickets to the next 49ers game to the first two people to tweet a photo of themselves wearing the shirt.
Whitner first came up with the T-shirt idea after being fined $21,000 for his hit on St. Louis Rams' wide receiver Chris Givens in the end zone during Thursday's 35-11 49ers victory. He was called for unnecessary roughness when he appeared to make contact with Givens' helmet
He made up T-shirts with #LegalHitner on the front. "I'm not happy with it,'' Whitner said of the call and the fine. "The intent is not there."
It's official...The W is being removed from my last name from Whitner to Hitner...GM
— TWHITNER (@DonteWhitner) October 2, 2013
Thinking about taking the W out of my last name. Mom said its ok (y'all kno I had to ask 1st lol) #NotPlayingEither
— TWHITNER (@DonteWhitner) October 1, 2013