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The Power Of A Name

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 23, 2011 – 10:42 am

AP Image

At some point or another, everyone has been pegged with a nickname that they don’t really like.  Maybe it’s embarrassing or offensive, but the time eventually comes to put your foot down.

We learned yesterday that when H.B. Blades became Horatio Benedict Blades in the media guide, he didn’t have a preference to what he wanted to be called, “it wasn’t a big deal either way.”

But for another Redskins player, the power of a name is deeply personal.

Oshiomogho Atogwe has been known for much of his career–and indeed most of his life–as ‘O.J.’  In order to answer the question of why he made the change, he answered with a few questions of his own.

“What is your name?” he asked me.  “What do people know you as? That was the idea behind it.”

As he explained, his decision to change his name in the media guide came down to a matter of respect.

“There’s no problem with me having a nickname as long as people know what my real full name is,” he said.  “It’s just an issue of respect and just honoring my Nigerian heritage.”

[Official pronunciation: oh-SHIM-ah-go a-TOG-way.]

As someone that desired a fresh start with a new NFL team, Atogwe has the best opportunity to shape his identity in Washington now.

“Being Nigerian and honoring my parents–honoring who I am–it was something that was starting to get lost,” he explained.  ” So it just made sense to me to just remind people and to emphasize that my name is ‘Oshiomogho,’ and not ‘O.J.'”

“It’s fine if you call me ‘O.J.,’ just so long as you know that my name is ‘Oshiomogho Atogwe.'”

Atogwe, a native of Windsor, Ontario, said that he’s had the nickname since he was 8 years old.  The strangest part is that there really is no ‘J,’ in the ‘O.J.’

“It was just a nickname, it’s not initials or anything,” he said with a smile.  “My middle name is Isaac, but ‘O.I.’ doesn’t have a nice ring to it.”

In case you’re worried about offending Atogwe with a gross mispronunciation of his name, fear not, he’s not that sensitive.  Just be respectful.

“Y’know, when we’re talking small talk and they call me ‘O.J.,’ I won’t be offended,” he said.  “But definitely when they write about me, or when they’re speaking about me in the public eye, I definitely want to be referred to as ‘Oshiomogho.'”

After typing O-s-h-i-o-m-o-g-h-o so many times, I will certainly not forget.

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One Response to “The Power Of A Name”

  1. By James (Jim) Moss on Aug 23, 2011 | Reply

    I can understand that completly. In my case, I was always told to introduce myself using my given name even though I prefer being called by my nickname.

    More power to Oshiomogho. Schwarzenegger stuck with it and it worked out pretty well for him. 🙂

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