In his most recent MMQB column, Peter King breaks down Eagles new left tackle Demetress Bell and just how that recent name change came to be.
When is Demetrius not Demetrius? When it’s Demetress.
Free agent Demetress Bell signed with the Eagles to play left tackle last week. Only when he sat down to dinner with Philadelphia offensive line coach Howard Mudd, Bell explained to Mudd that his first name wasn’t really “Demetrius,” as had been listed as his name going back to high school — and perhaps before. He looked at his birth certificate entering college at Northwestern (La.) State, and saw his name really was “Demetress,” but just never said anything to anyone about it.
(Bell’s life has been an odd one in another way. He was born out of wedlock to ex-NBA star Karl Malone and a fellow resident of Summerfield, La., Gloria Bell. Malone didn’t take an active role in Demetress’ upbringing, talking to him but once, according to a story by the late Allen Wilson in the Buffalo News in 2008.)
So in 2003, he enrolled at Northwestern State, knowing his name was “Demetress” but going along with the more conventional “Demetrius.” He never told anyone when he was drafted by the Bills in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, and throughout his career in Buffalo. But when he was being recruited to play for the Eagles, he told offensive line coach Howard Mudd his real name, and when he signed with the Eagles, Mudd alerted Philadelphia director of football media service Derek Boyko, who called Bell to ask him how he wanted to be identified. Bell told him he wanted to be known as “Demetress” and he wanted the name changed officially with the NFL. So the Eagles did that.
The Eagles have been a name-change bastion in recent seasons.
In 2006, tackle Tra Thomas — whose official name is William Thomas III and whose nickname was “Tra” — asked to be known by his real name, William Thomas. That lasted two years. In 2008, he asked to be called Tra Thomas again. Tra Thomas is retired now.
Also in 2006, the Eagles signed former Giants cornerback Will Peterson, whose full name was Williams James Peterson Jr. When he arrived in Philadelphia, he told the Eagles he wanted to be known as William James. That’s how he is known today. He is unsigned, having last played for San Francisco in 2010.
In 2008, defensive end Juqua Thomas changed his last name to “Parker” to honor his father, whose last name was Parker and who died in 2005. Juqua Parker left the Eagles last month and signed with Cleveland.