Tags of pride

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September 23, 2007

Not even Rocawear designers could pinpoint when dog tags received an honorable discharge as exclusive military gear and marched their way into modern fashion. But since they became popular, modern trends have people sporting them for a variety of reasons: beliefs, religion, favorite quotes, marital status or even something as simple as a profile of name, age and hometown.

WWE Champion John Cena also wears dog tags -- but The Champ's reasoning has nothing to do with fashion. Cena began wearing his tags while filming WWE Films' second release, The Marine.

 "I've always respected the principals of the military," Cena said. "When I started doing all the military appreciation events, like going to Iraq and training at Paris Island, I learned about the value of dog tags, not only from a literal standpoint but also an emotional standpoint."

Although a silver half-dollar sized item, the tags Cena wears around his neck and close to his heart are tangible representations of what fuels his will to succeed. Even without the dog tags around his neck, Cena has always held that desire to rise above the average. He graduated from Springfield College in Massachusetts an All-American Division II football player, a task that is unrealistic without focus and dedication. But his dog tags encapsulate family, tradition and honor, and contain a different sense of pride from being recognized as an outstanding football player or more recently, the longest reigning WWE champion in almost two decades.

"For me, what my dog tags stand for is very personal," he said. "Very personal."

Just how personal? When WWE.com requested The Champ hand them over for less than five minutes to snap a few photos, he responded with a cockeyed smirk, raised eyebrows and a "hell no." Refusing to part with them for less time than it takes to prepare a Lean Cuisine, Cena demonstrated how closely he has adopted their meaning. And while the writing on them would remain a mystery, he did reveal that he has "my family members on there, and everyone who is special to me."

But who can blame him for not wanting to share what's on them? Lately, he's been put through an emotional gauntlet, having to watch his father -- a man who most likely is one of the eight names engraved on one of the tags -- get abused by an imperious, gold hungry Randy Orton. The sight of Mr. Cena suffering and bloodied at the hands (or more literally, boot) of Orton has literally sent The Champ into an emotional frenzy.

It's not uncommon to see him gripping his dog tags when referencing just how much his family means to him, either. Cena made it clear through actions like attacking the Acting GM of Raw, Jonathan Coachman and getting disqualified at Unforgiven against Orton, that the only thing that could be considered as important as his WWE gold is the safety of his family. Like a true champion, he offered to relinquish his title to get his father out of a match with the ruthless, much younger Legend Killer.

Pick up Cena's Beware of Dog T-shirt at WWEShop...

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