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Fried Meat Ball!
10-17-2006, 09:05 AM
Even Polamalu can have a bad hair day once in a while

By TIM DAHLBERG

Larry Johnson had quite a day for a guy whose team got the stuffing kicked out of it. He not only made the tackle of the year, but managed to follow it with the quote of the year.

The takedown ensured Johnson a featured spot on YouTube.com for months to come. The quote should at least get him honorable mention to the sportswriters' hall of fame.

"The dude had hair," Johnson said. "What do you want me to do?"

The dude does have hair. Lots of it.

Troy Polamalu's mane spills out of his helmet like a wild sagebrush scattering to the desert wind. If he seems to be everywhere in the football field, so does his hair as it bounds about, taking on a life of its own.

Don King's got nothing on this guy. King's hair merely sticks straight up like he just stuck a finger in an electrical socket. Polamalu's goes in every which direction, sometimes all at once.

Steeler fans have been so inspired by the mop that they've written songs about it. Television cameras embrace Polamalu like he's Tom Cruise in pads.

And the fans in the upper decks who can barely tell which team is which know instantly when he's on the field.

Not since Jimmy Johnson was pacing the sidelines for the Dallas Cowboys has so much attention been paid in the NFL to a head of hair.

Still, it was only a matter of time before it came into play. There was just too much of it not to. This is, after all, football. It's a man's sport, where pretty much everything goes.

Which means hair pulling is fair game.

Polamalu understands that better than most. That's why he seemed almost embarrassed by the attention Sunday when Johnson yanked him down from behind by the hair while the All-Pro safety was on his way to a meaningless touchdown after an interception in a 45-7 blowout.

Imagine what might have transpired if Terrell Owens had been dragged down by his wagging tongue instead. Football would never have been the same.

But Polamalu grows his hair long for far different reasons than Owens runs his mouth. It's a tribute to his Samoan heritage, and he's been letting it grow for about five years now without anyone trying to pull it.

One bad hair day wasn't enough to make him head to a barber.

"I'm glad it happened," Polamalu said. "It means I've got the ball in my hands."

That's true because Polamalu, like most NFL players with hair sticking out their helmets, is a defensive player. Guys on offense who try to avoid tackles for a living don't need to give defenders one more way to bring them down.

Sure, you have an occasional Ricky Williams whose dreadlocks a few years ago prompted the NFL to clarify its rule that, yes, hair can be used to tackle but in most cases when you see a big head of hair, it flows on defense.

One of those belongs to Packers cornerback Al Harris, who seemed a bit worried Monday that the dreadlocks that tumble below his shoulders might become a target.

"You can't grab a guy by the shoulder pads, but you can grab a guy by the hair? That's a little wishy-washy," Harris said.

Actually, the NFL does prohibit things like horse collar tackles and bringing a player down by his face mask. But even though a tug on the locks might be more painful than one on the face mask, the league considers hair the same way it considers a player's arm just another body part.

You can't blame them. The founding fathers of the NFL wouldn't have dreamed of this problem when they began making up the rules years ago.

When guys wore leather helmets and had names like Biff and Rock, they considered it daring to go more than two weeks between crew cuts.

Underneath all the hair, though, Polamalu is a bit old school himself. He's an offensive coordinator's nightmare, seldom lining up twice in the same place, and attacks the ball better than any defender in the league. When he really gets to flying around the field, the hair might as well be a superhero's cape.

Before Sunday, his hair had escaped through three-plus seasons unscathed. He's not about to change his 'do or his style just because he got yanked down once.

"If I've got the ball in my hands, they can tackle me all day like that," Polamalu said. "He can tackle me by my hair or my ankles. It doesn't matter, I understand that the nature of the game is that things like that can happen, and there's no bad blood at all."

That should make Steeler fans happy. One Pittsburgh television station ran an online poll and 65 percent of those responding said their Samson's locks shouldn't be cut. Only 7 percent said they thought the hair should go.

Johnson wasn't polled, but he might have mixed emotions. He did save a touchdown with the tackle, but he had a bit of a bad hair day himself.

"Trying to get my hands out of it was the hardest part," Johnson said.

Fried Meat Ball!
10-17-2006, 09:06 AM
Another Polamalu article... Chiefs interest throughout...




Polamalu presents big problems now that he's healthy

By ALAN ROBINSON

PITTSBURGH (AP) Troy Polamalu made so many plays, was so irritating and unsettling, that the Kansas City Chiefs finally did what has seemed inevitable since the Pittsburgh Steelers' All-Pro safety began wearing his hair down his back.

The Chiefs' Larry Johnson, wasting considerable energy to run Polamalu down on a 49-yard pass interception with the Chiefs already down by 31 points, grabbed Polamalu by his long black hair and yanked him to the turf.

After having an offense-disrupting game like he did Sunday in the reawakened Steelers' 45-7 rout of Kansas City, with 10 tackles, the interception and three pass breakups, it was easy to see how Polamalu got into the Chiefs' hair.

Polamalu's comeback from a shoulder injury that had limited his effectiveness for weeks was as important to the Steelers' defense as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's vastly improved play was for the offense. The Steelers are a different team when the two playmakers are at their best, as they were Sunday.

The Chiefs never did seem to figure out how to control Roethlisberger (2 TD passes) or Polamalu, who helped limit tight end Tony Gonzalez to three catches for 15 yards in a Kansas City offense that did almost nothing.

On some series, it almost seemed as if Polamalu was on offense, his name was getting called so much.

"He's such an instinctive guy," coach Bill Cowher said. "When he plays like that, he's all over the field. He makes a number of plays for you."

Afterward, Polamalu clearly didn't want to talk about the hair-yanking incident, which he knows will be replayed constantly for the next few weeks.

"If you know somebody with long hair, you take your hand and run it through somebody's hair, it's going to get stuck," Johnson said. "That's what happened. It wasn't like I was trying to jerk him around after I made the tackle."

Polamalu, a two-time Pro Bowl safety in his first two seasons as a starter, wears the hair long as a tribute to his Samoan heritage. He understands he takes the risk of being tackled by it on plays such as that Sunday just as running backs Ricky Williams and Edgerrin James once risked the same thing by wearing their hair long.

"I'm glad it happened," Polamalu said. "It means I've got the ball in my hands."

That Johnson happened to be the first to yank Polamalu by the hair is a curious coincidence. At the 2003 draft, the Steelers traded up 11 spots in the first round with Kansas City so they could draft Polamalu. The Chiefs used their pick to take Johnson, who last year led the AFC with 1,750 yards rushing.

Still, as defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said at the Super Bowl, the Steelers don't care if Polamalu lets his hair grow another foot as long as he keeps making interceptions.

"If I've got the ball in my hands, they can tackle me all day like that," Polamalu said. "He can tackle me by my hair or my ankles. It doesn't matter, I understand that the nature of the game is that things like that can happen, and there's no bad blood at all."

Even if there seemed to be some of it on the Chiefs' sideline, where microphones picked up some intense debates among the players about why each side of the ball was being pushed around like it was.

The Steelers (2-3), now back in the AFC North race after being well off the lead only a few weeks into the season, can only hope the rest of their opponents keep coming up empty-handed when they play them. Or at least clutching at nothing but Polamalu's hair.

They play Sunday at Atlanta (3-2) in the first of consecutive road games, with winless Oakland (0-5) to follow.

"We hope this can be a turning point for us," Roethlisberger said.

StcChief
10-17-2006, 09:17 AM
Where are the coaches stepping up to say cut it off...

Fried Meat Ball!
10-17-2006, 09:18 AM
Where are the coaches stepping up to say cut it off...
What's the matter with it if Polamalu doesn't mind being dragged down by it?





How was the chili?

morphius
10-17-2006, 09:20 AM
Someone grabbing a big handfull of hair and pulling it isn't anywhere near as painful as some might think.

scott free
10-17-2006, 09:25 AM
I have to admit that i really like the guy, he handled it with class, he's one of the most soft spoken, intelligent dudes around and i hope his team loses every damn game from here on out.

HC_Chief
10-17-2006, 09:31 AM
Troy has the right attitude.

It was a bullshit penalty BTW.

Gravedigger
10-17-2006, 10:17 AM
The reason he doesnt mind him being dragged down by it was cause he made an interception and was up 30 points.

boogblaster
10-17-2006, 10:31 AM
Jerk-it Larry....