Hair may still maybe a future topic of discussion for NFL players like Eagles WR Jammal Jones
(Philadelphia, Pa) — Even though the NFL quietly put aside “Hair-gate”, the policy/issue of whether a player’s hair can cover their name plate, at the last owner’s meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying that he needed more time to talk with more concerned parties (NFLPA, Players, etc) before trying to tackle this issue. I fully expect a potential NFL battle brewing over individuality versus uniformity when it comes to long hair. You know the first play of the ’08 NFL Season where a player has his long hair legally pulled that a commentator will bring up the proposed policy. Clearly there are two factions forming around Hair-gate with some conservative military crew-cut types in NFL (i.e. Kansas City Chiefs organization) preferring that long hair go the way of the old-school “Drop-kick” and long hair enthusiasts like players Steelers DB Troy Polamalu, Saints DB Mike McKenzie, and Packers DB Al Harris not wanting the NFL messing with their individuality any further.
Diplomatic Colts head coach Tony Dungy recently said about Hair-gate, “I think there is room for personal expression, but when you listen to Herm [Edwards] and the Kansas City guys, it is kind of a uniform thing”. He added, “You look around and the name is covered, and part of the number is covered. We have to figure out how to address that. Hopefully there is a way to do it and get the best of both worlds (uniformity/safety and self-expression).” As I stated before, I really don’t care how many tattoos a player has or if his hair is down to his waist as long as the guy can bring the “wood” on the field.
In doing a quick scan of NFL rosters I noticed at least 50 plus players that had long hair including many with the popular African American style of “locks”. The Philadelphia Eagles, the team that I cover, have at least five players (WR Jammal Jones, OL Stefan Rodgers, DB Asante Samuel, DB Marcus Paschal, and DT Trevor Laws) with the hairstyle. In talking with Eagles receiver and special teams player Jammal Jones (5’11, 205), a five-year NFL veteran, who has hair down to his numbers after 61/2 years of hair growth since college, the former North Carolina A&T player said that he has never been pressured by coaches to do something about his hair. The 27-year old in talking about his whole take on the “Hair-gate” issue said, “If a player wants to wear is hair over his name, then he should be allowed to”. However Jones, who also understands how tough it is to stay in the NFL after stints with the St. Louis Rams, New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers since 2004, added that if the NFL changed the policy that he would comply. But I clearly got the sense that he and other long-haired NFL players would talk to the NFLPA about fighting to maintain a players prerogative to wear any hairstyle.
In my Good Samaritan search to help the NFL find a good alternative to the sticky “Hair-gate” issue, I may have found the answer in a New York City based entrepreneurial company called Deshalamar Enterprises Inc. Deshalamar is the producer of a versatile lightweight head wrap called the “Locks Down” which supports and keeps long hair in place while being fashionable. In talking with Locks Down designer Deon Leftenant, the inventive fashion conscious young man expressed to me his desire to work with the NFL so that players can follow the rules while not stifling their individuality in order to pursue their dreams.
Leftnant is confident that Locks Down is the NFL’s answer and he is in the long process of working with the league to get Locks Down approved. He already has a few prototypes in longhaired players’ hands in an effort to be ahead of the “Hair-gate” curve.
Here’s hoping that an amicable ending can be found to end this potentially combustible situation.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer/Analyst for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)