So, as for the NFL’s rules on name changes — Nothing will be reflected for Deonte Harty’s new name this season. League doesn’t allow name changes after the season starts.
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) January 1, 2022
Well that’s frustrating. All-Pro New Orleans Saints returns specialist Deonte Harris changed his legal name to Deonte Harty in respect to his stepfather on Christmas Day last week, but that won’t be reflected on his jersey — NFL rules stipulate that a player’s name and number are fixed after the season starts. NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill first reported the news. He’s still identified as Deonte Harris on the Saints’ official online roster, and the wide receiver continues to use his old name on Twitter and Instagram. We’ll still be using it here at Saints Wire, too, to avoid confusion.
It’s a disappointing move by the NFL, if not unexpected. The No Fun League’s officiating crews aren’t any good at managing games as it is, so allowing players to complete a beautiful gesture to their family near season’s end would just overcomplicate things for the referees. How could they be expected to keep up if the name, not the number, changed on a player’s jersey in the season’s closing weeks?
All jokes aside, this does track with the NFL’s anti-individualist stance in limiting how players may represent themselves and their families during games. There are restrictions on everything from personalized eye black tape to embroidered towels and messages written on undershirts. Players even get fined for not wearing their socks high enough. The NFL puts a lot of value in how players dress and look when the cameras are on them, and the league office is unfortunately eager to punish anyone who steps out of line — or tries to change his name plate at the wrong time.