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What's In a Name? Titans CB Valentino Blake Explains


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Titans signed cornerback Antwon Blake this offseason. It's the name on his ID badge, and in the team's media guide. Since entering the NFL in 2012, it's how he's been listed on rosters.

But moving forward, he'd like to be known as Valentino Blake.

Blake has his reasons.

For starters, Valentino is his middle name. But the name change also provides a chance for a fresh start.

"I wanted to make more of a formal switch, and that's what I really prefer to be called,'' Blake said. "Overall, I like Valentino more. I've been wanting to do it, and I figure a new team, a fresh start, so there's no time like the present."

Blake, heading into his fifth NFL season, actually goes by a lot of names.

His nickname is "Zilla," which is referenced in his Twitter handle, "@ZillaMane41." But a lot of his friends also just called him "Blake."

Some more background:

"Zilla is a nickname that kind of came up,'' Blake said. "I actually got it my freshman year in college (at UTEP) from one of my strength coaches. I started lifting, and it was like 'Godzilla.' And some of the dumbest nicknames, they just stick if everybody likes it. It made its way home and I embraced it, and that's what they call me.

"Antwon, that's what people call me when they don't really know me."

Cornerback Antwon Blake signs his contract at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Jeff Harding)

Titans cornerback Jason McCourty is playing a different kind of name game.

"I call him little guy,'' McCourty said with a smile. "We actually all call him Zilla but I hear he'd rather go by Valentino now than Antwon. He is one of those type guys where each day you are trying to figure him out a little more.

"Hey, whatever makes him happy, I'm cool with it."

Blake is so cool with the name "Valentino" he has it tattooed on his back.

On Monday, when quizzed about the name change, Blake said he hopes it catches on, but he knows he'll still answer to a lot of names. On the team's depth chart and updated roster, he now appears as Valentino Blake.

More than anything, he wants to make a name for himself with the Titans after previous stops in Jacksonville and Pittsburgh.

"I am definitely excited to be here, especially from what I have been seeing from the team in camp,'' Blake said. "Everyone's mood around here, you can tell the atmosphere is good. Guys are working, and everyone is looking to have a big year." looks at the NFL career of former Steelers CB Antwon Blake. (AP Photos)

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