Hakeem Nicks 888.com online poker

NY Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks will have an extra “8” on his team jersey, if poker site 888.com gets their way (Image: BSO.com)

In the overcrowded arena of ways to get your name out there, sometimes you just have to think outside the box. That’s the thinking, apparently, of the marketing geniuses at 888.com, an online poker site now licensed in the newly launched New Jersey Internet casino marketplace, when they offered New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks $88,800 to legally change his name to 888.com.

Anything for Attention

While pretty obviously just a publicity stunt to get shmucks like us to write up the story, it’s unlikely that a check for under $89K is going to get a pro football player all  that excited; heck, these guys spend that much on bottle service on any given Las Vegas weekend. But it’s a catchy press release and an amusing concept. More than that, it appears to be at least in part in response to last week’s first-time-ever marketing alliance between an online poker site – partypoker.com – and two major pro sports teams: the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

Game on.

Of course, ya gotta have a gimmick, as Gypsy Rose Lee once said (at least in the musical about her), so this is 888’s.

“We’re excited that 888.com is up and running in New Jersey,” said 888 Holdings CEO Brian Mattingley. “As we consider 888 to be the premier gaming site in the Garden State, we thought it was appropriate to align ourselves with other area notables. We couldn’t think of a more fitting local athlete than Big Blue’s very own number 88, Hakeem Nicks. We are also aware that Hakeem’s contract is up, so we hope that he sees this as a gesture to stay and as an opportunity to benefit a local charity that he supports.”

Never hurts to throw in some community feel-good elixir either, does it.

Nicks Not Biting

Also not too surprisingly – and vaguely reminiscent of a recent cryptocurrency launch that used Kanye West’s name even though he had no actual involvement with the product – Nicks hasn’t responded, let alone said yay or nay. It’s been a tough year for Nicks;  he caught 56 passes for 896 yards, giving him an average of 16 yards per catch, and also had 14 catches for 20-plus yards with his longest going for 57 yards. However, he went the whole season without reaching the end zone.

While nobody really thinks he will take 888 up on this creative offer – at least not at this price point – if he did decide to go ahead, there’s a whole bunch of paperwork to take care of, as anyone who’s ever gotten married – or divorced – can attest. Besides the usual trips to the DMV to change his license, another one to the Social Security office, passport office and any and all banking institutions, Nicks would have to get a papal blessing from the NFL.

If that were to happen – and there is the precedent of Ocho Cinco, who changed his name from the more mundane Chad Johnson back in 2008 – Nicks would then trade in his current team jersey for a new one saying “888” – which would be a publicity victory worth a whole bunch more than $88,800 for the poker site.