It’s not a case akin to Metta World Peace, Muhammed Ali or even Chad Ochocinco, but Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard is undergoing a name change…
Now introducing: “Shaquille” Leonard.
The tackling machine and All-Pro defensive stalwart spoke with reporters during Colts training camp on Tuesday and followed it up with a tweet: announcing his decision to stick with “Shaquille” moving forward.
Leonard acknowledged that he has long been called by his middle name — Darius Shaquille Leonard — and that sage advice from Randy Moss convinced him to withhold requesting a name change within the Colts organization until he built up his clout in the NFL.
“I went by Shaquille my whole life and I understand that it’ll be a hard change to be called Shaquille after being called Darius for 4 years,” Leonard tweeted.
“It’s not a huge deal and it wouldn’t be no hard feelings if you called me Darius. Shaquille is my middle name that I’ve went by since 95.”
Leonard added during camps, “I was only called Darius when I was in school or when I was in trouble.”
In four seasons out of South Carolina State, Leonard has accrued 538 combined tackles, 30 pass deflections, 17 forced fumbles and 15 sacks.
Known also as “The Maniac,” Shaquille has played his way to three Pro Bowls, Defensive Rookie of the Year (2018) and three first-team All-Pro selections.
The Colts announced that Leonard was added to the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on July 24.
Shaquille Leonard is currently working on his recovery from back surgery on June 7.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela