January 02, 2007

Name Recognition

Earlier this year, just before the start of the NFL season, someone asked me if I’d heard of Darrent Williams. His intention in doing so was to try to prove a point that not many people knew who the guy was despite his considerable talent.

My response was something along the lines of, “Doesn’t he play safety for the Broncos?”

So, while I was pretty close – in reality Williams was a cornerback – the point was still clear: If a sports fanatic like me, who wastes countless amounts of brain space knowing the names of obscure players across multiple sports, didn’t know exactly who Darrent Williams was, it was likely that many others didn’t either.

And now most of us know his name for the worst reason imaginable, which by now you have almost definitely heard – Williams was shot and killed early Monday morning in a drive-by shooting.

With seemingly every sports writer in the nation having weighed in on this topic already, I don’t feel like there’s much more to say. I hadn’t ever met Darrent Williams in any context, and didn’t know much of anything about him except that he was a talented young player.

So ultimately, I don't really have anything to add to the discussion except for this: It sucks that this killing made his name before Williams could fully make it himself.


Continuing with the subject of names (and on a slightly more upbeat note), the artist formerly known as Houston Texans’ RB Domanick Davis has either been hit with a moment of inspiration or has completely lost it, or both, because he has chosen to be reborn as Domanick Williams.

For the most part, this appears to be a thoughtful, inspired choice, as Williams is switching to his mother’s maiden name because that's the name he more truly identifies with.

The only thing slightly alarming is that the name change has been accompanied by the shedding of braided hair and a lot of talk from Williams about how he’s essentially reinventing himself and starting over as a new person.

"So I'm coming back as a new person altogether," Davis/Williams told the Associated Press. "It's going to be crazy, but I had to make my move."
Once again, we're all for reinvention and self discovery around these parts, and really have no problem with someone cutting off his braids, but it’s tough to hear all of this and not at least momentarily think of another prominent Williams – that would be former NBA player Brian Williams – who changed his name to Bison Dele only to later disappear and ultimately be presumed dead in one of the stranger sequences of events in modern sports history.

Now for what feels like disclaimer #19 in this commentary…

This is not to say we expect Domanick Williams to flip his lid and completely disappear from the face of the earth. Only to say that we can't think of name changes in sports (particularly ones involving the last name of Williams) without thinking of the strange Bison Dele. More power to Domanick for changing his name and trying to revamp his image, even if the name switch from Davis to Williams ranks as one of the least dynamic legal/administrative proceedings of modern times.

And I suppose in some way, a boring last name is a good thing. At least he didn’t change his name to Domanick Dele.


On an unrelated note, you know you've been on the shelf too long with an injury when you find yourself immersed in a basketball-related daydream in which you're burying improbable fade-away jumpers only to realize that in your entranced state you somehow managed to let the train you were supposed to board whisk right past you on the platform without you so much as noticing it was there.


Lastly, since this post's overriding theme (in case you didn't catch it) has to do with people's names, we’ll let a man who goes by Hank (also known as the Broken Cowboy) have the last word with an inspired post about Monday night’s Fiesta Bowl, which I missed entirely and now greatly regret missing as a result of having read this recap. Take it away, Hank.


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