September 16, 2008
The NFL Player Formerly Known as Chad Johnson
Name changes are hard. I know from personal experience. True, the actual legal process of changing one's name, e.g. from David Aaron Telman to David Aaron Jeremy Telman, is actually quite easy. I paid an attorney a couple hundred bucks to do so back in the 1980s, and the attorney told me he was grateful to have a matter that he could actually close. No, the difficulties arise later, like when the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles informs you that you are only permitted three names on your driver's license (initials are not permitted) and insists that you go by David AJ Telman, a person who does not exist.
So my heart goes out to NFL player Chad Ochocinco (formerly Johnson), who has faces much more significant problems associated with his name change. It turns out that Reebok controls the jerseys that NFL players wear, as CNBC reports here, and they need notice of changes (ordinarily of numbers) months before the season begins, so that Reebok doesn't end up manufacturing jerseys with the wrong numbers. I mean, who wants a Michael Jordan #45 jersey? So, if Chad wants to wear a jersey with his name on it this season, Reebok says he has to cover their costs for the 100,000 or so C Johnson jerseys already made and in circulation. Reebok puts that cost at $48/jersey (!), so the cost to Chad of wearing a jersey with his current name on it would be $4.8 million. The blogosphere has called down a pox upon all the relevant houses, for example here and here. But Chad is not without his defenders. Luckily for me, there is no market in contracts profs jerseys.
HT: Alan White and Valpo 1L George Catanzarite
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