Chicago

Darius Leonard name change: Who is Shaquille Leonard?

Chicago
Darius Leonard is going by his middle name, Shaquille.

NFL fans, meet Shaquille Leonard.

You might already know him: He's the best linebacker in football, a three-time First-Team All-Pro for the Indianapolis Colts who brought home the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2018 and led the league in forced fumbles last season.

Oh, and he went by the name Darius until today -- Tuesday, July 26.

Leonard, who is set to begin the season on the PUP list recovering from a back injury, told reporters at the start of Colts' training camp that he was shedding his first name in preference for Shaquille (his middle name).

Despite playing five seasons as Darius Leonard, the linebacker told reporters that his name is Shaquille and he would like to be called by that when he returns to the field this summer.

Leonard revealed his middle name is actually Shaquille but that it's the name he's gone by since childhood -- and therefore the one he's more comfortable being called.

Leonard enters his fifth NFL season in 2022. He was a second-round selection out of South Carolina, and led the league in tackles in his rookie season for Indianapolis. Shedding the Darius label won't be easy for a player that accomplished so much with that name, but fans would be wise to respect his wishes.