It’s fall, and the annual football drought is ending. NFL preseason games have finally started, but before the regular season starts, there are still some very important topics that need to be covered.
Like deciding who in the NFL has the best, and worst, hair.
In making a list of the best ‘dos in the NFL, I thought I’d find about ten awesome ones. Maybe twelve, and I could narrow it down to ten.
Instead, I found 50.
I recruited my wife to help pick through the list and add some credibility to the final product. It became clear quickly that having a list of “good” hair and another of “bad” hair was unnecessary, since nobody’s actually interested in good hair (are you reading this to see Tom Brady’s male-model hair? Didn’t think so). Instead, most of the entries in this list have earned the “so-bad-it’s-good” distinction.
Here we go, in no particular order:
The Conditioner Commercial: Domata Peko
Peko is a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, and he represents some of the nicest hair in the business.
His hair erupts out of the back of his helmet in a twisted, bird’s-nest, cheerleader’s ponytail gone wrong. It looks like the mane of a lion that got messed up by some bigger, tougher lions. See a bunch more pictures here.
But when he lets it down (say, for a formal occasion like this headshot), we get to see the amount of care this man puts into his abundant hair.
The Beast: Clay Matthews
When my wife first saw this picture of Clay Matthews III, the Green Bay Packers’ rookie linebacker out of USC, she commented that he looks like The Beast from “Beauty and the Beast”. Not the one from the animated Disney movie, though, and not even the one from the Broadway musical—but rather The Beast from the live-action television show, which aired from 1987-1989. Yeah, it went off the air 20 years ago, but would you be able to forget that face?
Regardless, the Packers will likely get their money’s worth out of this first-round pick, as this grizzly mug will be staring down quarterbacks from the other side of the neutral zone.
White guy, long blond hair, and yet he’s about as far from Sunshine in Remember the Titans as you can get.
The Brillo Pad: Rey Maualuga
Like Clay Matthews, Rey Maualuga is also a rookie. And also a linebacker. And also from USC. Some say that the USC Trojans are a factory for producing NFL players, but apparently they’re also a factory for wicked hair.
Maualuga recently said on the Dan Patrick Show that he had considered dying his hair orange, to match his Cincinnati Bengals uniform. Had he done so, this list would have been much different—it would have featured only Maualuga, as no other hair in the league could possibly compete with his.
The Dreads: Atari Bigby
If Bigby, the Green Bay Packers’ safety, looks like a crazy Jamaican Rastafarian in this picture, it’s because he is in fact from Jamaica, and is also in fact a Rastafarian. I don’t believe that he is actually crazy, but we all have our moments.
There are a lot of dreadlocks in the NFL, in various forms (think Bob Sanders, Bigby’s Packer teammate Al Harris, Larry Fitzgerald), but Bigby beat them all out with his traditional Bob Marley-style, clumped-together dreads.
My wife correctly identified him as a spot-on match for Tia Dalma, the priestess from Pirates of the Caribbean.
The Black Santa: Chris Kemoeatu
Kemoeatu, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Tongan offensive guard, wins major points for the beard that accompanies the hair. Notice that’s it’s not a mustache and beard—just the beard, Abraham Lincoln-style.
He looks pretty happy in this picture, as anyone might be after winning a Super Bowl. But it doesn’t necessarily mean I’d want to sit on his lap and tell him I’ve been a good boy this year.
The Homeless: Alan Faneca
This picture of New York Jets’ guard Alan Faneca reminds me a great deal of the New England Patriot’s tackle Matt Light, who I had originally selected for this list. When it came down to competition between the two of them, my wife selected Faneca because he looks “more homeless.”
Probably not something you’d say to a 300+ pound, 5-time All-Pro in person. But I’ve included a picture of someone down on his luck, on the right—so you can be the judge.
The Rat Tail: T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Housh, a wide receiver now playing for the Seattle Seahawks, isn’t known for his hair. He’s a tremendous receiver, and has been living under the shadow of the boisterous Chad Ochocinco in Cincinnati. But when the helmet comes off, the true glory of his nasty, ratty braid is revealed.
He faced some competition from the Miami Dolphins’ Samson Satele in the braid category, but emerged on top for the strange rope-like quality that he’s achieved in this picture.
The Ringlets: Robert Gallery
There’s something very princess-y about Robert Gallery’s tight curls. Very Anne Hathaway. Very Natalie Portman from Star Wars Episode II. Turns out Weird Al Yankovic is the only male on the planet with hair anywhere close to Robert Gallery’s.
But Gallery’s gnarly scowl is a far cry from the femininity of a Hathaway, a Portman, or (frankly) a Yankovic. He’s the starting left guard for the tough-imaged Oakland Raiders, and beneath those lovely curls is 325 pounds of solid offensive lineman.
The Mullet: Travis LaBoy
LaBoy is a free agent defensive end, most recently with the Arizona Cardinals. And while his hair is all business in the front, there’s a party hanging out the back of that helmet.
My wife quickly compared him to Inigo Montoya, the Spanish swordsman from The Princess Bride. Her reasoning: “He has the hair up here [gestures at the top of her head], and then more hair down here [gestures to her shoulders].” Indeed.
I haven’t seen LaBoy lately, but I’m told he cut off the hair for charity. Hopefully it comes back.
The Godfather: Troy Polamalu
You knew it was coming. No list of great NFL hair would be complete without the most famous ‘do in the business. Troy Polamalu, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ strong safety, has great hair.
Polamalu also owns perhaps the most famous hair-related moment in NFL history. On October 15, 2006, Polamalu intercepted a pass by Damon Huard of the Kansas City Chiefs, and ran it back nearly to the end zone—only to have Chiefs RB Larry Johnson get ahold of his hair and yank him to the ground.
He was asked later that day if he was going to get his hair cut.
“I lost half of it already,” he said.