I have a friend who insists that he will never wear a sports team jersey with the name of a player on the back. His rationale is simple. Players come and go, but team loyalty is forever. You may one day move away from your place of origin, but the sports team goes with you. When a player moves on from his team of origin, his jersey typically changes to reflect the name and logo of his new franchise. “Follow the money…”
The streets of Cleveland are awash with the charred remains of LeBron jerseys. The discount racks of the Washington region are flooded with Albert Haynesworth jerseys. You may love the Orlando Magic, but that Dwight Howard jersey you are wearing is kind of an embarrassment now. In that light, my friend’s prohibition on player names is sound and economical. Players change teams more often than teams change cities, unless you live in the Pacific Northwest.
Another reason to avoid buying the player’s jersey is the increasing odds that the player on your back will do one of the following: 1. Be arrested for domestic violence; 2. Be charged with failure to pay child support; 3. Be outted for sexting a pic of his junk to his mistress…during a game; or 4. Forget to rinse his DNA off of his lucky steroids needle. There are no more heroes, right Lance?
My friend would be shocked to learn that not everyone agrees with his memo on this topic (mission statement). In fact, two Washington area residents have taken the player name on the jersey practice up a notch. Their obsession and blind loyalty to players is so devout, they are willing to ruin the life of their unborn child.
Marissa Pena, a lifelong Cowboys fan, lost a Thanksgiving Day bet to her boyfriend, Emanuel Vega, who is a lifelong Redskins fan. The stakes were high: the winner gets to pick the name of their unborn son.
Pause. Breathe. Inhale the stupidity for a moment. OK, now a couple points:
First, I’m not much of a gambler, but I know enough to recognize a losing bet when I see it. Regardless of the outcome, the kid is destined to be saddled with a dumb name. I’d like to see the blood-alcohol report on these two at the time of shaking hands on this bet. I am confident they were both in Joe Namath territory.
Second, I thought this kind of mixed marriage was still banned in Texas and the greater DC area. While relationships may sometimes develop after a few refreshments on a Sunday afternoon, marriage is strictly forbidden under the law. That could have changed. It is the 21st century after all.
Third, players are imperfect humans. Why not stick with the tradition of picking the name of a saint (and I don’t mean a New Orleans Saint)? It’s usually the safer route. To become a saint, you have to be dead, which precludes that individual from doing anything else that could get them arrested or otherwise excommunicated. In addition, saints go through a thorough vetting process designed to uncover any blemishes on their reputation in advance of the naming. Lastly, saints have to have performed 3 verified miracles, all without the aid of performing enhancing drugs. The Church has a fool-proof testing program no doubt.
Naming your child after a player carries no such protections and thereby tremendous risks. A boy named Canseco Johnson will be the target of the unfair assumptions that he must be an idiot like his namesake. A little girl named Tanya Harding O’Neill to settle a bar wager will be forced to carry her parents’ guilt and suffer the hangover for her entire life. Poor kid must feel like she’s capped at the knees from Day One.
The ‘Skins won on Thanksgiving. Emanuel won his bet with Marissa, so the player-to-be-named-later has been revealed. Little Boy Vega will be named Robert Griffin Vega. Yes, he will live out his years as RGV, or at least until the parents rename him Kurt Cousins Vega in a few years. The most popular man in any sports town is the backup quarterback. Could happen.
It is possible that Griffin will never recover from his knee injuries. He may shoot someone. He may become obese on high fat Subway sandwiches. He may bet on baseball. The point is, you never know.
My friend without a player name on his team jersey knows that. If only he could have gotten to Marissa and Emanuel sooner.
I have a recommendation. For the sake of the unborn child, get a tattoo instead. You can get rid of that easier than a kid if RGIII doesn’t pan out.
My favorite quote from the father-to-be to the Washington Post reporter: "What am I thinking?" I have the same question for him.