My late grandfather, who grew up during the Great Depression, was a major influence on getting me involved in sports, particularly football. It was one of his great passions. He grew up at a time when crew cuts were the norm.
So, when football players started sporting Brillo cuts and dreads, he found it amusing. He would quip about the long hair and ask why the defenders didn't just tackle them from behind by the hair. After all, he always reminded me that long hair was for females, not males.
The times most certainly have changed.
Now football players with long hair of any variety, are the norm. Some of this is fashion sense, or lack thereof, while some of it is deeply rooted, pun intended, in cultural influence.
Today, I am going to give you the 22 NFL players with the "best" and most "distinct" hairstyles in the league. At this time in the season when football starts to get more serious, I thought it would make sense to provide some lighthearted commentary heading into the weekend.
You will see comparisons to Phil Spector and Fred Flinstone. You will see links to clips about Rick James and Bob Marley. Most of all you'll be vastly entertained with this all-hair team.
All the Clipboard Jesus jokes aside, well not all of them, it must be really nice to be Charlie Whitehurst right about now. First, he looks like an iconic image within western culture. Secondly, he has made about $2 million per start in his career.
Still, you have to take one look at that hair and believe that he must get the best-looking girls. An added benefit is that he doesn't have to dress up for Halloween and must really feel at home during Christmas church services.
Jackson was one of the first running backs to make this dread style popular. Since then, the likes of Chris Johnson, among others, have followed suit.
I have seen the Rams' running back pulled down by his locks more than once and it must not feel too good. Just imagine how good he would be if those pounds of hair were extracted from his playing weight.
If you don't already, make a smart decision and follow Anthony "Boobie" Dixon on Twitter. He has to be one of the most random, insightful and all-around psychotic people on that site.
Oh, and he has one of the craziest haircuts in the league. For anyone that knows him, this Mr. T type of mohawk pretty much fits his personality.
Gotta love Boobie!
Honestly, Larry Fitgarald's dreads look a lot like those of Janet Jackson, circa Poetic Justice. Thank the gods I don't find him nearly as attractive as I did her.
They do seem to fit him relatively nicely at this point though. He is one player that looks original with this type of hairdo.
No that isn't Lil Wayne you see in this clip. Instead, it is the star wide receiver of the Atlanta Falcons, Julio Jones.
I still wonder how this style worked out in Alabama; he must have turned some heads off the field as well as on it. Still, the Lil Wayne look-a-like is one heck of a football player and his hair has nothing to do with it.
Anyone remember Manumana, the long snapper on the great football movie Necessary Roughness? If you don't, check out this clip of him walking in on a young Kathy Ireland.
I bring this up because Kemoeatu is a spitting image of the actor that snapped balls to Scott Bakula, saw Ireland naked and viewed Sinbad's amazing failure at acting.
Still, I don't think he would have been anywhere as nice to the long-legged beauty as the real Manumana was.
I was a little too young to remember the long-haired wannabe hard-rockers of the mid to late 1980s, but I have been exposed to pictures of my uncle during that era and it is not pretty.
Maybe Robert Gallery forgot that we are not in the decade of his birth anymore. Or, it could be that he wants to stand out from a crowd, but at 6'7" and over 320 pounds, doesn't he already?
It it just me or does Mike Iupati look like the son of former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Jesse Sapolu? If you need a refresher, check this out. The similarities don't end with looks, they are both from America Samoa and have incredible mean streaks in them.
49ers fans can just hope that Iupati's career ends up as good, if not better, than Sapolu's.
Let's all pray that Josh Sitton earns a multi-million dollar contract in the near future so he can be someone's sugar daddy. Otherwise, those looks just aren't going to cut it. He looks like a hairy Fred Flinstone. But for some reason I doubt he would get a woman as hot as Wilma.
Now, those dreads and that "nice guy" look definitely don't fit the way Jacob Bell plays football. He has a mean streak to say the least, and teaming up with Harvey Dahl probably magnified that even more.
It is still hard imaging the likes of Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis being intimidated with that mug.
If this were a Brillo hair pageant we would have a winner. Peko's style reminds me of Phil Spector meets Emmett Brown from Back to the Future.
"Soap," as he is called in San Francisco, is someone that I wouldn't want to see walking down the street late at night in a fit of rage. The do-rag here also lends some credence to that intimidating physique that anchors the league's No. 1 rush defense.
Sopoaga is another player on this list from American Samoa, which leads me to believe they represent the demographics of the male citizens there.
Is it possible that the paint on Keisel's face actually makes him look less scary?
Seriously, his style is reminiscent of the mountain people in The Hills Have Eyes. Except he will not tie you down and rip apart your man parts, that is left for the field and underneath pileups following fumbles.
Many people had never heard of Soliai when he came out of nowhere last season to become one of the best nose tackles in the NFL, a performance that earned him a franchise tag tender and huge annual contract.
I would have to conclude that Miami fans now know this huge example of a human being well enough to know that he isn't going to eat your children when walking past the small yellow school bus on a November afternoon.
They can relax.
NFL MVP lock Aaron Rodgers had the following to say about Clay Matthews earlier this season on NFL Network.
The difference between him and I is that I'm from Northern California and I act like it, and he's from Southern California, and he acts like it."
Not only was this a dis to Southern Californians, it was a backhanded attack on the USC Trojans from a Cal grad. Still, it has to make you laugh.
And Rodgers couldn't have been more right.
This picture best shows why Clay Matthews is considered the epitome of Southern California. Just look at him brisk that hair like Fabio.
This brings me to the final point of the clip. Doesn't Matthews remind you of an older version of "Sunshine" from Remember the Titans?
Now, someone is having a bad hair day here. It looks as if Ray Ray's locks came alive and attempted to blind him. There are so many puns that I could use here, but I will just stick with the obvious one.
Hair's "Age of Aquarius" ladies and gentlemen.
I wonder if it was A.J. Hawk's hair that prompted Brady Quinn's sister to start dating him when they were college rivals with Ohio State and Notre Dame, respectively.
This is something that has tortured my soul since seeing this picture of her donning a shirt of both teams. I still maintain that her performance here set forth bad karma for Quinn entering the NFL.
Trace Adkins does a song called "Ladies Love Country Boys." Many more love goldilocks on grown men; I still don't know why! Well, he got this woman in the end: enough said.
Before Dave Chappelle ended one of the best variety shows in modern history, he did this skit about Rick James. Before I get attacked by Green Bay Packers fans, I am only comparing looks here.
You cannot tell me that Tramon Williams doesn't resemble Chappelle's version of a cracked-out Rick James, because he does.
Rashean Mathis is one of the most underrated corners in the entire NFL, but don't tell his hair that.
One of my favorite charities is called Locks of Love. The goal of this organization is for healthy individuals to donate their hair to make wigs for people with cancer.
Long story short, somebody would really be happy with the full head of hair that Mathis has. Still, waxing your dreads has become a pastime and I have a hard time believing the Jaguars' corner wants to give that up.
The green jersey being worn by Atari Bigby here really enables me to play the Bob Marley and Rastafari card. The smile on his face, the wind blowing in his hair and the happy background of this picture has to remind many of us of Jamaica, or the Haight/Ashbury district during the '67 Summer of Love.
Fortunately for all of us, Bigby isn't an imposter. Instead, he was born in Jamaica, practices its civic religion and is an all-around happy guy.
So, to commemorate Bob Marley and make the former Packers safety happy here is a video of One Love.
No, that is not a picture of Polamalu's epic Head and Shoulders commercial. Instead, it is him siting on the sideline at a game earlier this season.
By now we all understand that hair is alive, this is why it grow, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Troy's hair continues to grow and will soon own enough territory to gain independence from the United States.
If you have been reading throughout this article and were waiting for an epic Troy Polamalu slide, you can forget about it. Everything that needs to be said or thought is in the picture.
It really is hard to beat Matthew McConaughey's performance of last decade when he decided it made sense to dance around naked playing the bongo drums, yes you read that right. Bongo drums!
A lot of people say that we have an identical twin running around somewhere in the world. Well, it appears that McConaughey has found his in the form of Indianapolis Colts' punter Pat McAfee.
Besides looking like brothers, they have a lot in common.
Last year McAfee was arrested for walking around a neighborhood not only drunk, but soaking wet and naked. The only thing he lacked were the bongo drums. In fact, if the drums were part of the story many people would have just assumed it was the actor up to his old tricks.