Carolina Panthers

Q&A: Carolina Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker

Carolina Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker dives across the goal line for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints on a play Dan Patrick highlighted on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, largely because of Whittaker’s unique name. “You can’t stop Fozzy Whittaker,” Patrick said.
Carolina Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker dives across the goal line for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints on a play Dan Patrick highlighted on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, largely because of Whittaker’s unique name. “You can’t stop Fozzy Whittaker,” Patrick said. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Ten questions about life outside football with Carolina Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker:

Q. So what’s your given name?

A. Foswhitt Jer’ald Whittaker.

Q. Guessing that’s a family name?

A. It’s a mixture of my dad’s name (Foster) and my last name. He wanted a Junior. My mother didn’t. So they sacrificed and took Fos from Foster and fused it with Whitt of Whittaker and made Foswhitt.

Q. Do they still call you Foswhitt?

A. My mom does. For the most part, her and a couple other people are the only people that still call me Foswhitt. It’s random or weird if somebody else calls me that.

Q. Have you always embraced the Fozzy nickname?

A. My oldest brother gave me the nickname Fozzy and ever since then it was a lot easier for teachers to pronounce it. It just made everything a lot easier on everybody. My older brother gave that to me whenever I was probably first, second grade. It just stuck with me ever since then.

Q. People seem to love the name, right?

A. I’ve had a ton of nicknames where people say Fozzarelli or Fosworth or the Foz or the Fonz. I’ve gotten so many. People have fun with it, too. It’s fun with me, as well.

Q. Dan Patrick (on NBC’s Sunday Night Football) showed your touchdown catch from the Saints’ game, I’m sure in part because of your name. Did you ever see a replay of that?

A. I didn’t see the replay or how it was sounding on the TV copy. So I’m not sure what he said.

Q. He said, ‘You can’t stop Fozzy Whittaker.’

A. (Laughs) That’s pretty funny.

Q. You spent most of last year in Cleveland. Was it crazy how the Browns’ 2014 draft almost played out like the “Draft Day” movie?

A. It was extremely crazy. I didn’t know what to expect from that movie. They filmed it in the actual Browns facility. Having been there and seeing how much they used from the facility was actually kind of cool. Like, ‘Hey, my locker was right there,’ or something like that. Seeing the way it played out and then comparing it to this year’s draft, it was kind of amazing like how accurate it turned out to be.

Q. Cleveland’s a great sports town, but long-suffering. What was your take on their fans?

A. They showed great support. Even when the team wasn’t doing so well, we went on a streak where we lost like five straight. Every home game, we still had a lot of people come out and show a lot of support. They love football out there, for sure. You can’t say enough about their fan base. There’s still a Dawg Pound. It’s live and jumping. Those home games, they rock.

Q. You have a 1-year-old son. Is he Foswhitt Jr.?

A. No, his name is Frost. I wanted the same initial, but I didn’t want to name him a Jr. I had enough time with me. I got to keep the uniqueness. Me and my girlfriend started going through all the F names in the baby books. Nothing stood (out) and then finally we came across Frost and another F name. But once I saw Frost and we started talking about it, we were sold on it.

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