No pun intended, but this hair thing in the NFL has gone on long enough. There's blond locks, dread locks, straight locks, and frizzy locks. Here's hoping Detroit Lions' defensive lineman Ndahmukong Suh (pronounced Sue) never grows it out. He might displace a lot of water and require a wide berth, but Michigan already has the Soo Locks connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron to accommodate large freighters carrying a big load, so he would hardly be an original.
Now far be it from me to say how men should wear their hair, because styles change and I've gone through a few phases myself. In college, mine got to be very long. Then I had to cut it off. Near as I can remember, it had something to do with getting a (gasp) job.
Many years later, for some reason, I grew a pony tail. After a while it just got to be too high maintenance. Or maybe it was that time in the barber shop getting trimmed up, when I held a small mirror in front of me, and could finally see the back of my head in the big mirror on the wall. Things had thinned out back there some. The pony tail looked like a long rotten hairy banana in bondage growing out of the bad side of a peach. Not good. So snip. That was gone.
But back to the NFL. I don't begrudge these guys doing whatever they want with their hair, but there's a reason all of them have their names and numbers on the back of their jerseys. It's so fans in attendance, announcers, and TV watchers can tell who's who. Lately, a lot of them have got to the point where their names are completely covered and, left unchecked, the numbers will disappear soon.
This is the same league where they mandate players dress "appropriately" coming and going from the stadium, have their fashion police strictly regulate everything from tucked in jerseys, to what color and style shoes, socks, wristbands, and even mouthguards they can wear; everybody has to have their chin strap snapped on both sides of their helmet before a play begins -- but yet it's OK with them if hair gets in the way of identifying players? Something is wrong here.
Sure, making a tackle by dragging a guy down by his hair is technically legal, but that rarely happens. It's the macho thing. Maiming is fine, but don't mess with the hair. Too sissified. So the running backs and receivers don't worry too much about it. On the defensive side? They know that grabbing their hair is off limits. It's called holding. Tweet. 10 yard penalty. And you'll notice very few offensive linemen with flowing manes. Given what goes on in the trenches, they know better. Same for quarterbacks. A few games like that with defensive linemen coming at them grabbing, ripping and tearing at anything they can get hold of for an advantage, and the back of their heads would look worse than mine.
Bottom line? In the interest of freedom of expression and all that, these guys should be able to grow their hair as long as they want, but it shouldn't get in the way of the ID things on their backs. A few suggestions:
They can get a bigger helmet and cram it all up underneath.
They can braid it and snap it down with the chin straps mentioned above. Just don't cover up the team logo. The fashion meter maids would not approve. Tweet. 10K ticket.
They can get creative and weave it through their face masks. As long as they can still see, this has the advantage of making them even more intimidating looking, but the disadvantage of, once done, no matter how bad they might want to take off their helmet for a breather while on the sidelines -- well -- good luck with that.
There's a much simpler way. Just tuck it inside the jersey in the back. It will eventually come out and fly around anyway, you say? Got it covered. Duct tape. No, not on the undershirt. It won't stick so well there. Tape the pretty boy's hair down directly to the dry skin of his back before the game starts. That hair's not going anywhere.
These guys pride themselves on being able to deliver and absorb vicious hits and popping right back up with nary a whimper. Macho men indeed.
Just make sure the cameras are rolling and the audio's turned up when that tape gets ripped off. We'll see about that.
As for me? Not so macho. I'll stick to key locks, combination locks, maybe even occasionally eat a bagel with lox -- and I'm not looking in that mirror again.