Tom Smart, Deseret News
Bronco Mendenhall created quite a stir a few days ago when he announced that the words "SPIRIT," "HONOR" and "TRADITION" would be emblazoned across the backs of BYU's football jerseys this season, rather than the customary Cougar players' last names.
Well, that didn't last long.
A few hours after that ill-fated announcement, which prompted BYU players to express their surprise and subsequent concerns and disappointment that their own names would no longer be placed on their jerseys, the Cougars' hierarchy relented and said the school's longstanding football mantra — "SPIRIT," "HONOR" and "TRADITION" — would only be seen on their jerseys once this season, in their homecoming game against Georgia Tech on Oct. 12.
While BYU players and fans breathed a sigh of relief after dodging that oddball bullet, I quickly realized that Bronco's brainstorm really was not all that far-fetched.
After all, there are a lot of athletes and coaches out there whose reputation, behavior and legacy could easily be summed up in one, two and/or three words.
Heck, remember the (not so) dear and (definitely) departed XFL? There was that guy whose jersey read "HE HATE ME" — easily the most memorable part of that otherwise forgettable football fiasco.
Along those lines, Karl Malone could've had "THE MAILMAN" or "SPECIAL DELIVERY" on that No. 32 jersey of his, and John Stockton could've had "UNSELFISH" or "PURE POINT GUARD" on his. Michael Jordan might've boldly worn "BEST EVER" and Wilt Chamberlain could've boastfully put the number "20,000" on his jersey to exaggerate all of his off-court conquests, while Jerry West would've worn "MR. CLUTCH," of course.
After all, they're already identifiable by their jersey numbers, so is their last name really necessary? Bronco didn't seem to think so, but that turned out to be a minority opinion.
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