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Monday, July 7, 2008

Eager to distance himself from the bumps he hit on the legal freeway, Cowboys corner Adam Jones recently renounced his Pacman tag. Would other pros ever forsake their famous aliases?

TERRY "TANK" JOHNSON, COWBOYS "My first year at Washington, I was fast and strong but didn't have much focus. So a senior teammate said, 'You're a tank. We're gonna call you Tank.' If a senior says he's gonna call you something, you go with it. Now when people hear my real name, they say, 'Who the hell is Terry?' When I retire, people may call me that, but nothing could make me give up Tank altogether."

COVELLI "COCO" CRISP, RED SOX "When I was young, my great-grandmother called me Co, and my sisters, brothers and cousins thought it'd be funny to call me Coco Crisp, after the cereal. In Double-A I told some guys about the nickname, and they put it on the clubhouse bulletin board. When I joined the Indians, that was my name. It doesn't matter to me—call me Covelli, Coco, Numbnut, whatever. I'll respond."

BLAKE "BILKO" WILLIAMS, FREESTYLE MOTO X "As a kid, I made up my own rules to games like backyard cricket. So when I was 13, my dad started to call me Bilko, after Steve Martin's character in Sgt. Bilko, because he created his own reality. At 16, I wore 'Bilko' on my jersey and won an Australian championship. That's when it stuck. My mom is the only one who calls me Blake—and only when she's angry."

JUSTIN "JOBA" CHAMBERLAIN, YANKEES "I've known myself as Joba since I was born. My niece was unable to pronounce Justin, so she'd call me that. Nobody knew my real name until I graduated from high school, when my dad put it in the yearbook. Now there's nothing that could make me switch back. It'll never happen. No, sir."

JACOB "TITO" ORTIZ, MMA FIGHTER "When I was 1, I was a difficult kid, and that got me the nickname of Tito from my father; he said it means 'tyrant'. What's funny is my mom got my real name from the Bible; in one story, Jacob wrestles against an angel. And now wrestling has changed my life. But growing up, all my friends called me Tito. I was pretty much born with that name, and I'm going to die with it."

CLEVAN "TANK" WILLIAMS, PATRIOTS "I drank lots of bottles of milk as a baby, and one day my sister said they should just give me a tank of it. My dad was my high school football coach, and he called me Tank. It spread quickly—I was even Tank on class rosters. Now I get confused with other Tanks, especially Tank Johnson, but I doubt I'll ever switch back to Clevan. Besides, hopefully I can get in a Got Milk? ad."

Commentary From An Affected Party "I own that name. Tell him I said that. He's ruining my name and causing me trouble. People hear who I am and ask, 'Weren't you arrested for a shooting?' It's horrible. I don't even know what 'make it rain' means." -ADAM JONES, FREESTYLE MOTO X