Dennis Pitta, meet Dennis Pitta ... the professor

  • Dennis A. Pitta, Ph.D., is seen here at the University of Baltimore Merrick School of Business. He shares a name with Dennis Pitta who plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
Dennis A. Pitta, Ph.D., is seen here at the University of Baltimore… (Algerina Perna, Baltimore…)
October 31, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

Dennis Pitta keeps getting friend requests on Facebook from hot-looking women, which is all very flattering, although it probably doesn't go over real well with his wife.

The only problem is, he's not THAT Dennis Pitta.

Not even close.

"After I tell them I'm over 60, 5-feet-6 and 180 pounds, I never hear from them again," he says with a laugh. "They don't even bother to write back and say 'I'm sorry!'"

That's because this Dennis Pitta is the genial, long-time marketing professor at the University of Baltimore and not the Dennis Pitta who's built along the lines of a stand-up freezer and plays tight end for the Ravens.

As you can imagine, living in a football-mad town and sharing the same name as a guy who hauls in passes in front of 70,000 people on NFL Sundays can make for some confusion.

Like the time the good professor heard from Kelly Pitta, the tight end's sister, in a cheerful e-mail about her college experiences. ("Hey, Dad, is this your new laptop account?" it began, leading the prof to surmise it was meant for the tight end's father, also named Dennis Pitta.)

Or the time someone from Utah sent him a wedding invitation clearly intended for . No. 88 on the Ravens, a former BYU star.

Sure, it probably would have been a neat wedding, with great food and a killer reception afterward.

But instead of jumping on a plane and throwing rice at the happy couple at the church and elbowing his way into the buffet line later, Dr. Pitta simply forwarded the invitation on to the "other" Dennis Pitta.

Then there was the time the Ravens emailed him their passing plays right before No. 88's first minicamp .

This was in a PDF file filled with elaborate diagrams and exotic-sounding play names such as "Gut Pass RT 505" and "Queen LT slot slant pass" and "Jack RT Nasty 'Zoom.'"

Professor Pitta couldn't believe what he was seeing on his computer screen. Although he grew up in Boston rooting for the Patriots, he's taught at UB for 33 years and is a huge Ravens fan now.

So he quickly emailed the Ravens to inform them of their mistake, adding about the top-secret plays: "I promise not to sell them to the Steelers."

Me, I'm surprised the Ravens didn't have someone pay him a little visit and rip out his hard drive, given the level of playbook paranoia in the NFL.

Despite the unusual name they share — Professor Pitta thinks there are only three Dennis Pittas in the whole country: himself, the tight end and the tight end's dad — UB's Dennis Pitta has never met the Ravens' Dennis Pitta.

"Oh, I'd love to meet him someday," Professor Pitta says. "But it's not a big deal."

The professor did reach out to the "other" Dennis Pitta two years ago on the tight end's Facebook page, welcoming him to Baltimore and wishing him well in his pro football career.

But he never heard back from the Raven's star.

"I can only guess he was inundated with posts," Professor Pitta says.

Well, either that or the tight end was creeped out, thinking some sicko fan calling himself Dennis Pitta was stalking him.

In the meantime, UB's Dennis Pitta has learned to have fun with the modest celebrity his name brings.

On Mondays after Ravens games, his marketing students will kiddingly ask him about how many blocks he had and how many passes he caught.

Colleagues will pass him in the halls and jokingly say: "Hey, Doc, how about leaving me tickets for this week's game?"

And he gets random emails from Ravens fans congratulating him on a big game or saying — this was back when No. 88 was injured — "I hope your hand gets better."

His daughter, Elizabeth, a production manager for a software company in Baltimore, even gets in on the act, posting on her Facebook page: "The two words I never get tired of hearing: 'Touchdown, Pitta!'"

What does the "other" Dennis Pitta, the guy who actually catches the passes, think of all this?

I cornered him before the Ravens' practice Wednesday and regaled him with a few stories of what the professor has been through in his name.

"I think it's kind of funny," the big tight end said. "Of all the places I could have gone to play in the NFL, I went to Baltimore, where there's really the only other Dennis Pitta."

Now I'm waiting for the day when No. 88 gets a Facebook friend request from a scorching-hot babe who's hoping to meet the distinguished professor of marketing at the University of Baltimore.

But I'm not holding my breath.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

twitter.com/kevincowherdsun

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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