Dec. 4, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver (16) Jesse Holley against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Is Long Hair a Player Safety Issue in the NFL?

The number of players in the NFL who have long hair seems to be increasing exponentially all the time.  The days when Mark Gastineau was one of the few players who had locks flowing out of the back of his helmet are long gone. The public’s perception of all the players with long hair in the NFL is difficult to gauge and probably varies widely from person to person.  In my opinion, long hair or dread locks do not have a place within the NFL for player safety concerns.  The NFL is a multi-billion dollar business, so the players, as representatives of the league, should dress accordingly while under contract to the NFL. On another level, NFL players are role models to thousands of the youth around the world, so they should look and act professional. Remember, the vast majority of NFL careers are only a few years, so it is not like a player can never have long hair if he wants it.

Even more important than the issues of professionalism, long hair on an NFL player is an accident waiting to happen, and it will happen at some point. For that reason alone, the NFL should ban hair that is hanging out below the helmet before that accident occurs to save someone from having a catastrophic injury.

I just do not want anyone to witness a game where a player has his neck broken because they get tackled by their hair.  It would be horrific, to say the least. It would not only affect the injured player, but it would also be traumatic for the player who made the legal tackle. So, let’s get the rule changed.  I am not opposed to long hair in itself, but I am totally against pulling someone down by the hair as a legal tackle. If player safety is so important to the NFL, why don’t ensure that an accident doesn’t happen.  Players might balk at being forced to cut their hair, but they should understand the safety issue and realize that it is a small price to pay for the privilege of playing in the National Football League.

Perhaps NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will ignore the “long hair” until a player(s) sustains a sever neck, back or head injury resulting from a play on the field.  A player can lose his life if he is tackled by a defender who is pulling a them down by the hair which actually means a player is head tackled.  It is not currently a penalty in the NFL, but should be.  The NFL waited for several marquee players to get injured before they made a rule outlawing the horse collar tackle. It still seems foolish that you can’t horse collar a player, but you can drag him down by his hair.  It doesn’t make any sense.  The game is violent as it is, and if the defensive player can legally tackle a player by yanking on a guy’s hair/head,  then the player will do just that, and the tackle will be legal.

What are the players thought on long hair?  Some guys simply just like the look according to The Blaze.

“We were playing the University of Miami and I just saw the way they looked. … They were shaking their hair and I was like, ‘That looks good.’ And then when they put their helmets on, it looked great coming out of the back of their helmets,” said Dallas Cowboys receiver Jesse Holley, whose dreadlocks now reach down to the middle of his back. “It makes me feel like I’m running fast,” Holley added. “When I have my hair out, I feel like a lion. It puts you in that wild, warrior-type mentality.”

As you can tell by the comments made by Jesse Holley, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, player safety wasn’t something he seems concerned about. The only thing on Holley’s mind is “looking Good” and trying to make the roster.  Don’t get me wrong, these guys are young and playing in the NFL and they can be trendsetters, and I also understand that it may attract a young lady or two. Had I had the opportunity back in the day,  I would have worn my hair long as well.  I will again play the spoiler and say that it is just a matter of time before we hear about an NFL player being severely injured on a perfectly legal play, a play in which a player was “tackled by the hair.”  If the NFL wants people to believe they care about player safety, they should start with a preventative rule.

Someone must take the lead on this issue and propose it to the “Rules Committee” before someone is severely injured.  Have the courage to stand up for a rule that everyone deep down knows could very well prevent a catastrophic injury. This is a type of rule that needs to be implemented sooner than later.

 

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