Over the years there have been some NFL players with some wild, even controversial hairdos. This seems especially prevalent in today’s game, as more and more players try outlandish cuts, some seeming like they’re just trying to top each other. Here are some of the most memorable cuts (or non-cuts) over the last few years or so.
Troy Polamalu, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers: Polamalu, the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has long been one of the most dominant safeties in the league. While his play has been able to distinguish him on his own, his trademark locks certainly play a factor in his memorable look. From several reports he hasn’t shaved his hair in 7-8 years, probably since his days playing at USC. However long it’s been, Polamalu’s hair won’t be going anywhere soon, especially considering his recent ad campaign with the shampoo Head and Shoulders.
Clay Matthews, linebacker, Green Bay Packers: Matthews happened to be the runner-up in the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting, which must’ve left other players in the league considering growing out their hair as well. Matthews’ long golden hair strikes fear in quarterbacks as he has become one of the top pass-rushers in the league in a fairly short amount of time. In a recent Twitter hoax, Matthews even played a prank on some naive fans, posting a picture of himself as a child with the mane that he wears now.
Al Harris, cornerback, Packers: The New York Yankees and the Packers may be the two franchises with the best sense of history in their respective sports, but they certainly have different policies when it comes to hair. Harris was known in some corners as The Predator after the famous movie villain due to his long dreadlocks and his ability to prey on opposing quarterbacks and receivers. While Harris didn’t play this past season, his memory is still fresh with many NFL fans who remember the All-Pro cornerback at the height of his playing ability.
Ricky Williams, running back, Miami Dolphins: Ricky Williams was one of the top running backs in the NFL during the early 2000s. While off-the-field issues got in the way of his success for some time, he regained a presence in the league and was still a solid contributor for the Dolphins and Saints. Williams’ dreadlocks got a lot of attention in 2003 when he was tackled by a player who actually used his hair to help bring Williams down. While Williams may have been unhappy about this seemingly unfair maneuver, the league actually ruled that the tackle was legal. Since then a few incidents have brought about the discussion of the rule, including a tackle by Polamalu, featured earlier on this list.
Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots: For a star quarterback, Brady has usually tried to keep himself fairly low-key. However, his hair has consistently been a point of discussion throughout his career, and while he has never kept it really consistent, it has always been a way to identify him. Specifically, Brady’s mullet which lasted from roughly the late 2009 season almost into the 2011 season was much discussed. Brady has certainly had his detractors over the years, and the mullet just gave those people ammunition while he had it.
Brooks Reed, linebacker, Houston Texans: Brooks Reed came into the 2011 draft as one of the most talked-about pass-rushing prospects that year. While he wasn’t drafted until the second round, he did have a fairly successful rookie campaign, but many thought that his high draft stock was due to his hair’s similarity to another player on this list: Clay Matthews of the Packers. While Reed never seemed to discuss the comparisons himself, it seemed apparent to many that the reason for the comparisons was that they both had flowing blond hair. Reed may be on the way to establishing himself in his own right, stepping out of the Matthews hair-shadow.
Jared Allen, defensive end, Minnesota Vikings: Jared Allen is another great defensive player with recognizable hair. While you may not be able to notice it on the field, the mullet he wears signifies his country-strong persona. Allen is featured as one of the top pass-rushers in the league, and he is well-known for his near brutally honest comments off the field. After finishing second in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting this past season, Allen seems at the height of his powers, and like many on this list, it appears that his skills are generated from a Samson-like haircut.
Julio Jones, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons: Another highly-touted rookie from the 2011 Draft, Jones had a productive-yet battered season with the Falcons. As the team’s top down-field threat last season, it was quite the sight to see Jones’ dreads floating after him as he sped down the field. While he certainly did not have a disappointing season, the Falcons will be looking for him to improve on his 2011 results. Jones recently shaved off those dreads and is now featuring a rather close-cut look. No matter the hair, NFL fans will be looking to see Jones as a great wide receiver threat in years to come.
Jerron McMillian, safety, Green Bay Packers: Here is a player most NFL fans probably have never heard of. McMillian was a fourth-round pick for the Packers this season, and will be fighting for playing time for a competitive team. The reason he makes this list is considering the fact that he hasn’t cut his hair in approximately seven years. McMillian admits that his hair is past his lower back, and while fans may not know of him today, if McMillian gets consistent playing time for the Packers, they will surely be able to recognize that hair in a very short time.
By Eric Gustafsson