NFL players play the name game for introductions

Associated Press Modified: October 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm •  Published: October 19, 2012

HOUSTON (AP) — State your name and school.

That's the only guidance NFL players get before taping introductions for Sunday night games.

Most simply list their college, but some players get creative.

Last week, three players on the Houston Texans' offensive line gave their elementary schools and one his middle school. The announcers joked that preschools were sure to come next week. (They were actually behind on that: A former Seahawks player once said his daycare group.)

The Houston linemen decided to use their elementary schools last season for their first appearance in a playoff game. When Houston was to be on NBC again Sunday night, they planned to recite their middle schools.

What they didn't realize is that players must specifically ask to make a change or the network uses what already has been shot. So new addition Derek Newton said his middle school according to plan, only to be the odd man out when three of the four other linemen were left with their elementary schools from last year's footage.

"We were kind of bummed out about it because we all wanted to be the same," Houston left tackle Duane Brown said.

A fifth lineman, Antoine Caldwell, also didn't follow suit because he was a backup last year and not privy to the plan. The former Alabama player still stood out, though. He passed on saying Alabama for "Roll Tide Roll."

Brown got a great response from the introductions and said they have another surprise planned for Houston's next night game on Nov. 11.

"We try to get away from the norm," he said. "We wanted to take it all the way back to our early beginnings. We had a good time with it. It was pretty fun. I heard from my former teachers, and the principal contacted one of my cousins who goes there now to tell me how proud they were that I said the school. It was a huge hit."

Fred Gaudelli, the producer of the Sunday night games, said players love the introductions.

"Especially guys that don't handle the ball, offensive linemen or defensive players, it's their chance to introduce themselves to the country and show who they are," Gaudelli said.

Then there are those who make up schools or use the introductions to joke or give a shout-out to family members.

"We let them do what they want," Gaudelli said. "It's their moment to personalize themselves."

Former NBC producer Don Ohlmeyer started the practice of players introducing themselves in 2000 when they were still doing "Monday Night Football." They've continued to do that since moving the show to Sunday night. He got the idea from college broadcasts in the late 1960s and early 1970s when players would introduce themselves and state their heights and weights in pregame shows.

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs is a player who's always taken advantage of his moment in the introductions.

In one of his early ones, he said Duke and Donna University. Of course there is no such school. Suggs revealed to a producer that Duke and Donna are the first names of his parents.

"You've got to have fun," he said, adding that he doesn't plan them in advance. "I used to go straight with it, but they started messing my name up, and where I went to school and who I was, so I started to say things that have to deal with me."

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