Week 10 picks: What’s in a name?

Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

For a variety of reasons, many Americans change their names. We hear of famous people changing their names, but my grandfather changed his name from Shamus Liam O’Hayes to James William Hayes because he perceived hibernophobia (fear and discrimination against Irish) when he came to the US from Ireland in the 1890’s.

Many actors and entertainers have also changed their names, and I will let the reader judge possible reasons. John Wayne was born Marion Morrison, Lauren Bacall’s birth name was Betty Joan Perske, Anne Bancroft was born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano, Woody Allen began life as Allen Konigsberg, Michael Caine was Maurice Micklewhite, NIcholas Cage started as Nicholas Coppola, Charlie Sheen is really Carlos Estevez, Marilyn Monroe originally was Norma Jean Mortenson, Andrew Dice Clay originally cursed as Andrew Clay Silverstein, Katy Perry was Kathryn Hudson before “Hot and Cold”, Matt Damon started as Alan Harris, and on and on.

Some names are so out there that  they’re obviously pseudonyms like Elton John, Snoop Dog, Mr. T, World B. Free, and Dr. Dre. But the recent release of Washington Football Team place kicker Chris Blewit after 3 blocked kicks in 2 games (I guess Blewit blew it) made me think of athletes who should have, maybe, changed their names


Nick Swisher was a very good baseball hitter who played with five different major league teams.

Coco Crisp, whose real first name was Corvelli, actually went by his nickname “Coco” and was also a very good major league baseball player.

Jason Dufner is a professional golfer with five PGA Tour wins. When I play golf, I meet his last name often.

Jake Butt, who, contrary to rumors, does NOT have a sister named Lotta, is a former NFL player whose promising career was cut short by many injuries.

Dean Windass, sadly, does not live in Fernley, but is a former English soccer player who reportedly got his speed from…never mind.

Then there are professional athlete names that make me wonder what were the parents thinking like Dick Felt, Dick Pole, Rusty Kuntz, Milton Bradley, Tommy Gunn, Yourhighness Morgan, Ben Gay, Stubby Clapp, Picabo Street, Fair Hooker (sadly, not a golfer), and Misty Hyman.

Believe me, with a last name like mine, I have faced more than my share of taunts. Instead of teaching, many have suggested to me that my career should have been in parking cars, so I could have the name “Vallet the Valet”. Or, had I been athletic enough to be a ballet dancer, I could have taken the name “Bolshoi Vallet”. My editor at the “Moapa Valley Progress” did not like it when I wrote that Matt Vallet (my son) was, “…parked under the basket.” Luckily for me, my wife overlooked all that and not only married me but took my last name as hers.

Maybe none of this matters. If we call the dentist a casino I still want to go where I can gamble and avoid where I get pain. Shakespeare said 500 years ago that, “That which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” So, whether we called him Coco Crisp or Cocoa Puffs, he could still play baseball.

No matter how you say it, my record of late is not good. Aaron Rodgers might say that my picks are not my predictions, and if you got the wrong message it’s the Fernley Reporter’s fault. Some former presidents might sue my editor for printing my record along with my article, claiming “reporter privilege”. Some current presidents might even say my current record is really quite good. I do not have the legal resources to claim anything else but…lately I have made a lot of bad picks.

Here are this week’s picks against the point spread, Lines are from William Hill Sportsbook on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Cleveland Browns (-1 ½) at New England Patriots: Odell Beckham Jr., his posse, and his dad are all gone, leaving the Browns with no excuses

Buffalo Bills (-13) at New York Jets: Two weeks in a row? I don’t think so.

New Orleans Saints (+3) at Tennessee Titans: The Saints defense is too good to be this up and down

Green Bay Packers (-3 ½) vs. Seattle Seahawks: Aaron Rodgers says there is a small chance that he won’t play, (??) so we can be sure that he’ll be there like a good neighbor.

Kansas City Chiefs (-2 ½) at Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders have folded the last two years down the stretch. Is last week the beginning of a three-peat?

Last week 2-3

Season 25-25

Robert’s picks

Rutgers (+7) at Indiana: The only way this line makes sense is if Indiana quarterback Michael Penix returns from the shoulder injury that has kept him out for the last month, but he wasn’t playing well before he got injured, and his backups have been inadequate, to put it politely. Rutgers is 4-5 and still harbors bowl hopes, and considering they finish the season against Maryland, their chances are good if they win this one. Four of their losses are to Michigan, Michigan St., Ohio St. and Wisconsin, all ranked teams. Indiana is not close to either one, so I’ll take what I think is the better team plus a touchdown.

Boston College (+1 ½) at Georgia Tech: Boston college quarterback Phil Jurkovec came back from an injury last week, and lo and behold, the Eagles looked like they did before he got injured. The Eagles are better at the line of scrimmage than the Yellow Jackets, and should force Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims into a couple of mistakes.

Michigan St. (-12 ½) vs Maryland: Michigan St. suffered the obvious letdown last week against Purdue after their incredible win over Michigan, but they’re still in the top seven in the playoff rankings, with the schedule laid out for them to play their way into the top four. That should ensure a bounceback effort here, and Maryland has offered no resistance to the upper tier teams with a defense that can’t stop the run or the pass.

Notre Dame (-5) at Virginia: It was disappointing to see Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong leave the BYU game with an injury last week. He appeared to be telling his sideline that his rib was broken. Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall refused to say this week whether Armstrong will play or not, but even if he does, I can’t see him being as effective as he’s been all season.

Saints (+3) at Titans: The Titans have won five in a row, the last four over the Bills, Chiefs, Colts and Rams. That screams trap game here, and although they overcame the loss of Derrick Henry to beat the Rams, the second game without a star is often when the loss begins to take effect.

Eagles (+3) at Broncos: Two consecutive wins aside, I’m still not sold on the Broncos. Now comes the Eagles with one of the best defensive lines in football, just as the Broncos are missing three offensive linemen. I don’t think Denver wins a third in a row.

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