New York Jets' Mark Gastineau was one of the first professional football players to sport long hair on the field. However, Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu is currently thought to be the reason behind so many long tressed football players.
While the long hair may ultimately lead to endorsements with hair care companies like Polamalu's Head & Shoulders deal, it can also become a game liability.
Hair Pulling - Football Long Hair Safety
To date, the only football long hair safety issues in the sport have been hair pulling. Polamalu's famous three-foot-long hair is part of his native Samoan heritage and it's the least of his worries when it comes to football long hair safety.
Historically Steeler opponents have made attempts in the past to grab a fistful of Polamalu's hair to sabotage his game play. In order to avoid football long hair safety issues with Polamalu, Lloyd's of London insured his famous hair for $1 million dollars.
Some critics believe there's a much more serious risk at play when football players wear their hair long enough to be pulled or grabbed by opponents on the field. Their expressed concerns are tied to the danger of potentially serious or even life threatening head, neck or back injuries.
Horse-collar Tackle & Football Long Hair Safety
In a September 5th piece written by texasbrady for sportDFW the dangerous horse-collar tackle was discussed as an excellent point of reference with regard to football long hair safety issues.
Why was the horse-collar tackle banned, but players can still legally tackle and violently drag opponents down by their long flowing tresses? It's a very good point indeed.
The horse-collar tackle is an American and/or Canadian football maneuver in which a defender tackles another player by grabbing the back-inside of the opponent's shoulder pads.
The technique is often tied to Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams who in 2004 was implicated in four major horse-collar tackle injuries including two in just one game.
The Roy Williams Rule & Football Long Hair Safety
Ultimately the famous tackle was banned from the NFL during the 2005 off season due to major injuries to several marquee players. The rule banning the horse-collar tackle became known as "The Roy Williams Rule."
Eventually the ban extended to include the back of the jersey collar in 2006. Modified rules were eventually adopted by college and high school football leagues in 2008 and 2009.
While players can no longer tackle players by grabbing their shoulder pads or collars, they still have free reign to grab chunks of hair. Tackles made when pulling hair are completely legal.
Summary - Football Long Hair Safety
Is long hair on professional, college or high school football players an major accident waiting to happen?
Is football long hair safety an issue which has been completely overlooked due to it's ultimate trendsetting glamour and promise of lucrative hair commercials and/or endorsements?Some critics believe it's only a matter of time before a long tressed football player is grabbed and violently injured bringing new awareness to the risks involved with hair pulling.
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