NFL: Distress over the Tress

Tim CroleySenior Analyst IApril 2, 2008

With the ever-increasing trend to sport long hair from under the helmet, the NFL is considering a proposed rule that would prohibit such hair from covering names or numbers of the back of uniforms.

Following the initial proposal from club owner Clark Hunt, Kansas City head coach Herm Edwards gives this proposition a 100% full endorsement.

"We are selling a product," Edwards said Tuesday. "And there are big companies that pay a lot of money to put their names on that stadium, in the stadium, and anything else. You'd hate for those people to say, 'Hey, you know what? We ain't buying this.' "

The proposal, however, will not be voted on during the league meetings end Wednesday. Instead, it will be scheduled for further review, including input acquired from players.

One significant point to mention is the fact that a clause in the collective bargaining agreement prohibits disciplining players due to hair length or facial hair.

To help clarify, Edwards went on to state, "We're not advocating guys cutting their hair, just put it in a ponytail, put a rubber band around it. The guy from Cincinnati (T.J. Houshmandzadeh) does it. Why? He's a wide receiver, and he doesn't want anyone pulling his hair."

More than likely a proposal such as Edwards' will lead many players to become disgruntled.

In fact, some fear that this might possibly extend to cultural issues, as Edwards suggests that African-American players who have thick, coarse dreadlocks may experience difficulties in finding a way to tuck in or wrap their hair in such a way to conform to the proposal.

Edwards himself can relate to the hair issue, since it was in 1977 that Herm himself displayed a huge Afro when he began his NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Because of the familiarity with the issue, Edwards argues that there are ways to abide by the proposal without having to shed the hair. One option suggested was to wear bigger helmets.

He went on further to state that, "Players adjust," as was the case when uniform measures were enforced in years past, such as bandanna outlawing and lengthy towels being worn from the belt.

I for one understand the problem at hand, but at the same time feel that any player who desires to risk the potential of getting tackled by the hair owns all liability.

I’m actually surprised that something has not been done yet.

Players are prohibited from tackling by the head; and hair, of course, is an extension from the head. Therefore, it would seem logical that a tackle by the hair would be prohibited.

And that is yet another reason for a player to flaunt the mane, creating a dilemma for player to tackle without grabbing a handful of locks.