SANTA CLARA - If you want to change your name in the state of Ohio, it will cost you $27. Donte Whitner discovered that this week when he filed the paperwork to legally drop the "W" from his last name. The 49ers' safety wants "Hitner" on the name plate of his jersey because, after all, that's what he does for a living.
"That's my game," he said Wednesday. "...That's what I do. That's my last name and removing a letter makes it pretty cool."
Whitner said he's been contemplating the change for some time. But two events occurred this week that convinced him to make it official. First, he got the go-ahead from his mother, Deborah Robinson, who initially didn't like the idea when her son broached it this summer but who recently gave him her blessing.
Second, he said the name change was a protest of sorts against an NFL that he feels is outlawing the big hits for which he is known. Whitner has been penalized for unnecessary roughness in each of the 49ers' last two games.
One of the hits that drew a flag, against Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw, ultimately was deemed legal by the NFL. The other one, which occurred Thursday against Rams wideout Chris Givens, landed Whitner a $21,000 fine. "The name change does have something to do with everything that is going on," he said.
Whitner can change his name for only $27 but there may be an additional cost. The NFL and its merchandise partner, Nike, require him to purchase all of the jerseys already on the market that have "Whitner" on the back.
Whitner said he's willing to buy them. "Depending on how many there are," he said. "I haven't really seen a whole lot around Candlestick. I wouldn't think there should be (a lot). Unless somebody's hiding them."
-- Matt Barrows