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Celebrity NFL picks: The return of Mr. Cuatro Cinco

Sal DeFilippo

Sal’s Celebrity Selectors, Week 1

That’s Mr. Cuatro Cinco to you.

Yep, I think that’s what I’m gonna do. Change my name to Sal Cuatro Cinco, in honor of my annual winning percentage against the spread in NFL games. When I drive by a speed limit sign with a big 45 on it, I’ll think it’s saluting me. Maybe I’ll even slow down a little.

Over the top? Well, sure it is, but it’s no crazier than the receiver-formerly-known-as-Chad-Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals legally changing his name to Chad Ocho Cinco.

The NFL announced that it officially decided to recognize his legal name change and gave permission for it to be displayed on his jersey this weekend. Personally, I don’t know how they could have had a choice in the matter – it’s now his legal name: Chad Ocho Cinco. The league should just be happy he went with his uniform number and not something profane.

When the NFL celebrated Hispanic Heritage month during the 2006 season, Chad wore Ocho Cinco on the back of his No. 85 jersey during pregame warm-ups, but had to remove it before the game, per NFL rules.

Of course, the true instigator of all of this was Rod Smart, who in 2001 wore “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey while playing for the XFL’s Las Vegas Outlaws. The XFL allowed its players to display whatever they wanted on the back of their jerseys, provided it was printable -– or at least could be shown on TV without the FCC going berserk. So players used whatever monikers or phrases they wanted. Smart trademarked the He Hate Me nickname -– a Smart move -– but didn’t legally change his name (who would want a middle name of Hate?). So when the XFL folded and He Hate Me latched on with the Eagles and Panthers for a five-year career, mostly as a return specialist … his jersey simply read “Smart” on the back.

The problem for Senor Eight Five is now this: If the Bengals become disenchanted with their star receiver and feel like hanging Chad, so to speak – they could just trade him to the Lions or Rams. It’s not because those are bad places to play. But those are the only two teams in the league who have retired the number 85 jersey. This would force Ocho Cinco to change his number, and therefore, his name.

And that whole court process seems like a hassle. I think I’ll stick with my last name as it is, since it took me so long to learn how to spell and pronounce it properly anyway. In fact, it’s no coincidence that I simply call this column Sal’s Celebrity Selectors. This keeps my last name out of it, and makes it clear who the real stars are here – and they are back to pick NFL games against the spread once again. This year’s participants are master magician Lance Burton, “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular” star Anthony Crivello, impressionist extraordinaire Danny Gans, comic and Luxor headliner Carrot Top, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, KVBC meteorologist Kevin Janison, and Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton. They’ll pick three games (or over/unders) against the spread in this space every week, and I’ll track their results throughout the season, as well as make my own cuatro-cinco percentage picks, which this week are the Lions –3 at the Falcons, the Bills-Seahawks game under 39 and the Buccaneers-Saints game over 42 ½.

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The celebrity picks:

Lance Burton, Monte Carlo master magician

Jets –3 at Dolphins

Patriots –16 vs. Chiefs

Colts –9 ½ vs. Bears

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Anthony Crivello, star of "Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular"

Ravens-Bengals under 38 ½

Jets –3 at Dolphins

Panthers +9 ½ at Chargers

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Danny Gans, Mirage headliner

Jets –3 at Dolphins

Patriots –16 vs. Chiefs

Chargers –9 ½ vs. Panthers

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Oscar Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas

Jets –3 at Dolphins

Lions –3 at Falcons

Bears +9 ½ at Colts

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Kevin Janison, KVBC meteorologist

Bengals –1 ½ at Ravens

Patriots –16 vs. Chiefs

Cardinals –2 ½ at 49ers

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Wayne Newton, "Mr. Las Vegas"

Cardinals -2 ½ at 49ers

Cowboys -5 at Browns

Dolphins +3 vs. Jet

Carrot Top

Steelers -6 ½ vs. Texans

Vikings +2 ½ at Packers

Chargers -9 ½ vs. Panthers

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