By Don Klein
“Flozell, Crezdon, Atari, Diyral." It was Mario speaking before he carefully bit down on a plump bean burrito at the KFC-Taco Belle outlet. It had become one of the winter destinations when the Boardwalk was no longer fit for human hanging out for the weekly meeting with his retiree buddy, Sam.
“What are you talking about?” Sam looked up from the fried split breast he was about to lift to his mouth and stared at his luncheon partner with a puzzled expression.
“My God, what strange, strange names.” Was all Mario said, appearing to be talking out loud to himself.
“Sounds like you know some of the rebels in the Cairo uprising? Or are you just overwhelmed by the aroma of those gaseous beans you’re eating?” Sam never missed an opportunity to slander his friend’s obsession for beans.
“Do you think I really give a damn about those Arabs rioting some 10,000 miles away? If it were not Egypt now, it would be Iran or Tunisia or Lebanon or some other God forsaken country in the Middle East in the past and probably in the future.” He growled, “After centuries of oppression they finally noticed they are living in the modern era.”
“If not the demonstrators in Egypt what did you mean by those strange words you just uttered?” Sam asked.
“It’s all about the Super Bowl. How those irritating Arabs managed to move the greatest sports event in America off the television screens and front pages of the country.” Virgil was fuming.
“You really think the Super Bowl is more important than the sudden overthrow of a dictator of a country of 80 million people?”
“Of course,” he answered, then added, “at least to us Americans.”
“I still don’t know what you were talking about when you blurted out those weirdo names,” a bewildered Sam said.
“See what the demonstrations did to you. You don’t even recognize the important names coming up in the news two days hence.”
Sam was now irritated, “What the hell are you talking about?”
“If the riots hadn’t distracted everyone you would know that Flozell Adams and Crezdon Butler play for the Steelers and Atari Bigby and Diyral Briggs play for the Packers.” Virgil explained.
“So what, I know there are lots of unusual names among professional football players. We all know about Haloti Ngata and Ladarius Webb of the Ravens, for example.” Sam added.
“Well that’s my point.” Virgil was near the end of his first bean burrito and was already eyeing the next one on the table lying passively on a wrapper in front of him.
“You know something? I can’t follow you.” Sam said, “What’s your point besides blaming the Egyptians for bumping the Super Bowl from the top news slot this week.”
“Well if they really wanted to change their government by massive demonstrations couldn’t they at least have waited until Monday afternoon so Americans would have time to relish the Super Bowl at least 24 hours before being brought back to the ugliness of international politics?,” Virgil moaned.
“Is that all you have to say about it?” his friend asked.
“Well I really wanted to talk about the weird names we gotten used to in football. Listen to these, for example. How about Maurkice Pouncey, the young center of the Steelers. He just started this year and will be around for a long time. What a crazy name!”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“To begin, the name seems to be a misspelling of M-a-u-r-i-c-e. Why is there a ‘k’ after the ‘r’?” Virgil emoted like an English teacher. “Then on the Packers there is Korey Hall. I’ve never seen that name spelled with a ‘K’ and Jarius Wynn. I heard of Darius, but never Jarius.
“Sadly the Packers have three players with no first or second names – they only have initials. Are you aware there is an A.J. Hawk, a linebacker; B. J. Raji a nose guard and C.J. Wilson a defensive end? Elsewhere there is a T.J. Houshmandzadeh on the Ravens. All I can conclude is ‘J’ is a very popular middle initial.”
“What’s in a name anyway,” Sam said, “How did Shakespeare put it? ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’.”
“I doubt if any of these guys smell very sweet, certainly not at the end of a game. Getting back to my point. There is a Ziggy Hood on the Steelers. Sounds like he should be a jazz musician.”
“I know what you are talking about. During the regular season I noticed the Jets had a couple of strange sounding ones on their roster. LaDanian Tomlinson for one and the strangest of all was D’Brickashaw Ferguson,” Sam continued, “I couldn’t figure that one out. Not only is his last name Scotch and his first name has an apostrophe, but it sounds like his name is a phonetic description of a two-wheeled street cab pulled by a coolie in ancient China.”
"A couple of years ago there was Plexico Burris on the Giants. He is now serving time on gun charges," Sam interjected.
“Well when you get right down to it names shouldn’t matter that much. Do you have a favorite player?” Virgil asked.
“Yeah, I like Anquan Boldin of the Ravens, despite his name” Sam confessed, trying to be humorous. “Who do you like?” he asked.
“I don’t have a favorite football player, but I like Hosni Mubarak,” Virgil answered with a sardonic chuckle.
Sucking the last of the chicken off the breast bone Sam answered, “If we are now talking politics, I like Barack Obama.” He paused, “ Yeah, what’s in a name after all?”
“What happened to great athlete's names like Babe, Duke and Mickey?” said Virgil as he finished his final bean burrito and burped.