Super Bowl XLV: Head Games, Hair and Higher Powers

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Super Bowl XLV: Head Games, Hair and Higher Powers
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Forty-five years ago, the first Super Bowl was played with far less fanfare than the much anticipated contest this Sunday. On Jan. 15, 1967, it's fair to say that few could have predicted the hype that this game generates.

Head games are nothing new to sport; but, recently it has taken on mythic proportions thanks to the likes of Rex Ryan and company. Should we praise our opponents or skewer them in the week before a big game? Will we lull them into a false sense of security or call them out for every imagined slight?

This year's teams appear to be taking a more respectful approach. As oddsmakers' underdogs, the Steelers' Ryan Clark claimed his team would be playing a better team and will "have to be as physical as possible."

Green Bay players are falling all over themselves praising Ben's scrambling ability. Mike Tomlin claimed Clay Matthews was "born to play football." Maybe everyone is storing up their animosity for kickoff. Frankly, the New York Jets circus was far more entertaining. 

"Da beard," the "flowing locks," the shampoo endorsements. When has hair been such a factor in football?

Brett Keisel's beard has its own Twitter account and t-shirt. The burly Steeler speaks of his beard as having its own identity, and on Media Day chastised "da beard" for its lack of focus and letting the attention go to its head.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Head? Newsflash, Brett, it's on your head! 

Defensive Player of the Year, Troy Polamalu, has created an industry around his hair. It's a trademark that has been insured by his major sponsor. Clay Matthews, he of the longer, blonder version, lost out to Polamalu in the AP voting, but not to be completely outdone, has secured a shampoo commercial of his own.

The last word on hair, though, should be about Aaron Rodgers. Any self-respecting hockey player will tell you not to shave off the facial hair until after the final game. All superstitious Green Bay fans must be questioning that decision.

Ben Roethlisberger used the word "faith" five times in his Media Day appearance. Other references to "God" and "Christian" were sandwiched in between. The reflection, the redemption and rebirth of Big Ben have been the focus of countless articles and features; however, it is the game, not his personal religious growth that should be the issue on Sunday.

Ben is not alone; too many professional athletes assert this born-again status when the spotlight becomes too intense. If one has truly gained that "inner peace" that Roethlisberger claims he has sought and found, then should that not be between the man and a Higher Power?

God may be a football fan but he could easily be a Cheesehead and not be waving a Terrible Towel.

Enjoy the hype, football fans, and get those exercise programs and diets ready. Other than Thanksgiving, more food is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year.

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