I’m not particularly religious. It may seem blasphemous to some, but the NFL is the closest thing my family has to spiritual devotion. For years we’ve congregated into my living room to watch the Dallas Cowboys spread their message. I study every pass, tackle, and interception. I pray to the NFL gods for a win for the home team. They’re fickle bastards, so when the Cowboys lost to the Bears last Monday, I wasn’t really surprised. When you pay as much attention to the goings on of the NFL as I do, you tend to notice when the players suddenly start growing their hair out. I have to ask, why?
Guest post by Brett Collins
Cons of Long Hair
A lot of football fans shake their heads at the new long haired fad that has crept into the league. My brother-in-law complains loudly about not being able to see the identifying numbers on their jerseys. My father-in-law delves into misogynic rants about “Sunshine pansies.” Both reasons are, in my opinion, inconsequential. Long hair is just as much an identifier as a number, and in today’s age almost anything goes.
The real reason, I believe players should think hard before opting to forgo the shears can be summed up in two words: “Ricky’s Rule.” Ricky’s Rule was named after Ricky Williams who had been dragged down by his dreads multiple times. The rule states that hair that sticks out below the helmet is considered part of the uniform. This rule makes dragging a man down by his long locks A-Okay as long as it is done during play. Any move to drag a guy down by his hair before or after play will result in a penalty. In my opinion it is too easy to use a player’s long hair against them.
Say Yes to the Hair
If the NFL is my religion and the Dallas Cowboys are my God, then it must follow that the players are my saviors. Ridiculous, I know. But sometimes you just have to beat a metaphor into the ground. My point is that before we disregard long hair as a viable choice for football players like B.W. Webb (Cowboys), Drake Davis (Cowboys), Troy Polamalu (Steelers), and Louis Delmas (Lions) we must first delve into why they have made the personal decision to wear their hair short.
Hair style is a deeply personal decision.
That being said, all that follows is sheer conjecture due to extensive, but unfruitful research.
Extra Cushion. Football can be an extremely dangerous sport. Due to the tackles, full body blocking, and other mishaps, head injuries that lead to long term consequences are a peril of the game. Louis Delmas has dreads that fro’ due to the rough and tumble nature of the game. That frizz gives him some much needed cushion that might prevent major head injuries in the long run.
The Warrior Heritage.
Troy Polamalu, no doubt has other reasons for keeping his hair long, but a key reason is an attempt to tap into that ancient tradition of long haired warriors. Troy says, “throughout history, every great warrior—the Greeks, the Samurais, the American Indians, the Mongolians, you name it—had long hair and would dress it before battle.” What is Football, but a clash of warriors? An effort to test their mettle and fortitude in an arena. They may not carry swords, but they use their strength, their skill, and their wits to bring down opponents and ferry the football to the end zone.
Not One of the Crowd.
Long hair is a way to distinguish a football player from your team mates. Short haired football players are hard to distinguish from each other. This is especially true if fans are actually at the game. Long hair can be an easy way to ensure that your fans can recognize you.
Personal Preference. Many players no doubt have dreads or longer locks due to a personal preference. While most men prefer a shorter hairstyle, there are those that prefer longer hair. The reason behind the personal preference is deeply personal. It changes from person to person, so I won’t even bother trying to read the minds of football players I don’t know personally.
Men can acquire free alcohol by growing their hair long. Poor suckers, who are attracted to a mane of long hair, might send free drinks in an effort to “pick up” what they perceive as an attractive lady. The awkward moment when the fella comes to say hi and realizes the long haired football player is a man would be worth all the free drinks.
Personally I’m not particular fond of the style, but hell if I can’t see the appeal. Who wouldn’t want long silky locks or badass dreads that serve the dual purpose of protecting your head, setting yourself apart, and wrangling in free drinks when poor suckers mistake you for a woman? They just have to be prepared for the fact that long hair can and will be used against them.
Brett Collins is a born and raised Texan who takes his football a little too seriously. He writes on behalf of Hair Physicians.
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