When the future NFL contender was about 6 years old, his father, Daniel, put him in the backseat of his black 1999 Cadillac STS and drove to the Burger King on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa, Fla.
Fast food was an easy choice for Daniel, a young single father in his twenties. He wasn’t the cooking type, and after 13 years separated from M’s mother, Holly Muling, the two parted amicably with M and their two daughters. In his day, however, Daniel needed a restaurant to feed his young children, and since Burger King was his favorite, the Whopper House became a regular stop.
Daniel’s order was the same every time: Whopper with cheese for him and a baby cheeseburger for his son.
Only the Lord wanted the same thing as his father.
I am: You can’t eat a big burger, kid, Daniel reminds us.
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Mr. insisted for weeks, and Daniel finally gave in and let his young son taste an adult-sized hamburger. To his surprise, Sir ate everything. After some of these early visits to Burger King, Daniel, Mr. Little Wop to call him and unknowingly passed this nickname on to his son.
16 years later, the nickname still applies. Wop Filor is now 22 years old, 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, and is available for the 2021 NFL Draft after completing 124 passes for 1,497 yards and eight touchdowns over the past two seasons for the Indiana Hoosiers.
This year’s draft class is filled with wide receivers, which means Whop might not hear his name called until the final day of the draft, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.
Kiper said there could be about 37 pass catchers taken this year, including tight ends, and Wop could be one of the final 10 – somewhere in the fifth or sixth round.
There are many types of gaming machines that can play both indoors and outdoors, Kiper said. He was fun to watch. … I like to give him the ball in the room. He’s a productive kid who catches the ball all the time. He was a real player for them in Indiana.
And although he hasn’t eaten a Whopper since his sophomore year of college, his name has stuck, even if it slackened a bit when Mister turned 13.
Dude, don’t call me small, Philor said. I’m not little. All the little guys had little man syndrome. Dude, I’m not a kid. Don’t call me small.
Filora crying with her father in 2016. It made me more awake, more aware, Daniel says of the loss of his first son. Because I wanted to be a good father in Wop, because where I come from, a lot of us don’t have that. Daniel Faylor.
The love of tragedy
The only son of Daniel and Holly, Wop grew up with a relationship with each of his parents that developed in its own way.
Each of them, however, is a branch of a tragedy.
Daniel and Holly’s first son died in April 1998, aged one, after falling from a second-floor window while Holly was six months pregnant with Wop. That moment changed the way every parent went shopping.
It made me more alert and aware, Daniel said. Because I wanted to be a good father in Wop, because where I come from, a lot of us don’t have that. And I always told myself that I’d be a better father if I had kids. I think I did the right thing.
Holly and Daniel told Wop a lot about his brother, whose death had changed their parents. Everything they wanted to do with their first son, they did with Whop, but with more energy.
When Wop was born, Daniel, a former halfback, was determined to get him into the sport as early as possible and onto the field at the age of three, but the baby started crying.
I put everything in the wop, says Daniel, who has been running wop routes on the basketball court since he was 7 years old. Despite Wop’s protests, his father assured him that everything would be fine.
The results came in early. Kick ran for a 75-yard touchdown in his first Pop Warner game as a fullback.
Holly Muling and Mr. Elias De’Angelo Filor, aka Wop, during his senior year at Plant High School in Tampa, Fla. My son is all I have, Muling said. Holly Muling.
Wop continued to work, a trait he says he inherited from his mother, a medical worker with her own temp agency and one of the few who still call her De’Angelo.
It’s crazy what my mother went through, Wop said. She had to leave me and everything, and when she came back, we didn’t have much. We didn’t have much.
She sacrificed not to eat because we had to eat and everything. … She worked all through high school and college, she had three jobs so we had a fire, she made sure we had money when we were in school and so on. So she just poured it on me.
One of the first things Whop wants to do with his NFL salary is build an office for his mom. Hearing that he had plans for her, Holly paused. They never talked about what he wanted for her. His conversations usually boil down to wanting his son to be great.
My son is all I have, Holly says. He’s different from the girls. I can’t explain it, but it’s different when it comes to my kids. It’s just different. Maybe I only keep him around because we lost our first son too soon. So I think I have De’Angelo a little better in hand. Like there was nothing to do. For example, when he comes home and wants to go out with his friends, he has a curfew. It’s like I hold him closer to my heart than the other kids. We just had a relationship, how, I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. I just love her too much.
Wop has half-brothers and considers his former teammates brothers, but he says it’s different to have a blood brother. He calls the brother he never met his guardian angel.
Sometimes he talks to her before he goes to bed.
He’s with me all the time, Wop said.
I’m not going to lie. In college, probably the most frustrating thing was saying my name because the teachers were talking: Shopping? Yes, that’s my name. Sorry, that’s my name. Craig Bisacre/ESPN
About this name
When people first hear the name Wop, they usually ask for it to be repeated. Then they’ll ask him to do it again. Then they ask him to repeat it a third time, usually with What did you say?
Indiana head coach Tom Allen met Wop during his sophomore year at Plant High School in Tampa. Wop played with Allen’s son, Thomas, and they became friends. They were near the field when Wop approached Allen, introduced himself and hugged him.
But although Allen was impressed with Wop’s extroverted personality at the time, he couldn’t forget his name and eventually got the whole story from him.
I am: Are you kidding me? Allen scoffed at ESPN.
From then on and throughout Wop’s time at Indiana, Allen called him Wopper.
Allen’s reaction was pretty typical.
When Wop started appearing on Indiana’s campus, some people asked him if he was named after the Wop dance. Instead of explaining the whole story, he just went there because people remember it so easily.
However, other Indiana students felt that Wop was misrepresenting the facts by using an ethnic slur directed at people of Italian descent.
I’d say so: No, that’s not how it’s spelled, said Wop. I’m not going to lie. In college, probably the most frustrating thing was saying my name because the teachers were talking: Shopping? Yes, that’s my name. Sorry, that’s my name.
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Opponents did not hesitate to call him names. On Twitter, fans said they had named their dog after him, or that their little daughter wanted to be named Whop.
Growing up, no one cared about his name, Wop said. The other kids asked him what his name was, he said it, and they played on.
The only one who doesn’t call him Wop is his mother. She tried to persuade him to pass De’Angelo, but Wop refused.
I didn’t think it would come to this, she said. It’s just amazing how that name has become what it is.
All these years later, with less than a month to go before the tender, Wop had no other choice.
I like it, he said. I like it when people call me Wop, because I feel like it stays with me, like it’s me. Because my real name is Sir, who wants to be called Sir when they grow up? I feel like, man, people get bullied for stuff like that. I’m not kidding you, and Wop is unique, you know?
I’ve never heard of anyone called Wop. So do I: Dude, I’ll pass. I like it. That’s something else.
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