Throughout camp, Tomlin called him "Abdullah the Butcher," one of the most brutal pro wrestlers of all-time.
"He just came up to me and said he's not going to call me Guy Whimper because of my last name," said Whimper. "He said 'I'm going to call you Abdullah,' and ever since then he's called me Abdullah."
And on the first day back in Pittsburgh, from training camp, the name above Whimper's locker read only "Abdullah."
Whimper wasn't sure Tomlin was serious about it, or him, until Marcus Gilbert went down Sunday with a quadriceps injury during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens. That's when Tomlin turned around and said, "Abdullah, you're up."
Abdullah and Kelvin Beachum, considered mere depth back in training camp, combined Sunday to hold the dangerous pass- rushing tandem of Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs to 1.5 sacks in the Steelers' 19-16 win, a win that kept alive any playoff hopes this season.
The Steelers didn't just protect Ben Roethlisberger, they blew open enough holes for Le'Veon Bell, who ran for 93 yards on 19 carries, a 4.9 yards-per-carry average. As a team, the Steelers rushed for 141 yards at the same 4.9 per-carry clip.
"The credit goes to the offensive line," said Roethlisberger. "They did such a good job of opening holes at the end, the last play. They were begging for another run. They were almost fighting in the huddle. The right side wanted to run it their way and the left side wanted to run it their way. When there were holes, the running backs got to it. Even when there weren't they got pushes. There were times that Le'Veon, or whoever was in, was stacked up at a 2-yard gain, and you saw our whole line push it another 3-4 yards. To me, that's just an attitude and a mindset."
The Ravens' frustrations soon became evident. Dumervil, during the Steelers' eight-minute field goal drive in the third quarter, was cited for three penalties, including two personal fouls. And Suggs had a little something exta for Beachum.
"He gave me a good ol' head slap," Beachum said. "Ain't had one of those in a while. It was late in the game. We were starting to run the ball pretty well."
Was it out of frustration?
"Yeah. But I mean, it's part of the game," Beachum said. "You learn from it. Maybe that's why him and Max (Starks) didn't like each other too much, little stupid stuff like that. It is what it is."
The game was Beachum's second as the Steelers' starting left tackle. He had replaced Mike Adams out of the bye, and this week Adams worked in practice as a tight end.
Whimper worked at right tackle for two practices because Gilbert had injured a quadriceps muscle late in the Jets game. He then aggravated it on the first series and Whimper got the call, as Adams remained in his role as an extra blocking tight end.
A 30-year-old Honolulu-born NFL journeyman, Whimper spent three years with the New York Giants and three with the Jacksonville Jaguars where he made 22 starts. Sunday's was his first start with the Steelers, and first ever as "Abdullah the Butcher."
"Coach didn't like the Whimp on his last name, so he's Abdullah. Officially. Now. Definitely," said Foster. "Even his son introduces himself as Abdullah's son. It's definitely official now. But he came in and did a really good job, man."
Maybe it was the new name.
Or maybe it was the Ravens.
"Some of my teammates," said Whimper, "were talking all week about how the smell's going to be different, the fans were going to be different, how they were going to come to the game even earlier. You saw it. It was a great atmosphere, a great crowd. We put on a good show."