Can you imagine getting tackled by your hair? Ouch! I have long locs and I cringe when my 3 year old daughter tries to yank my hair. Getting your hair pulled by a professional athlete going full speed is a whole different ball game. As painful as it looks it is actually legal to tackle somebody by their hair.
The league ruled in 2003 that long hair is an extension of the uniform, and thus it’s OK to grab it to make a tackle. – Sports Illustrated
The only person in the video compilation above that does not have locs is Troy Polamalu. Nonetheless, ALL of the hair tackles look gruesome and should make anyone with long hair cringe a little bit.
With more players, particularly black players, growing their hair out in locs I imagine the rules for “hair tackles” will be revised in the near future. Either that, or players may reconsider if they want to have long hair and continue to be a professional athlete in the NFL.
Personally I think it should be illegal to pull someone’s hair for a tackle. If a player decides to have dreadlocks it shouldn’t put a giant target on himself for hair pulling tackles. The only reason I feel that it is allowed because the people who actually make the rules for the NFL more then likely don’t have long hair and I can almost guarantee don’t have locs. If the rule makers could somehow put themselves in the shoes and perspectives of the players then I believe a no hair tackling rule would be swiftly implemented.
“What’s more, African Americans have increasingly embraced their natural hair, including dreadlocks, over the past two decades. In 2008, the league did consider banning hair so long that it concealed the the names on jerseys, but after outcry from athletes, it walked back the idea. Since then, a number of players, including Andre Ellington, Richard Sherman, and Marshawn Lynch, have had their hair whipped back and forth, to paraphrase, um, Willow Smith. While Richard Sherman’s opponent just pulled his hair, Ellington and Lynch actually lost locs as they were tackled. Lynch coolly shrugged it off, retrieving his hair and tucking it into his waistband as if he’d simply dropped his cell phone and not had his hair ripped from the roots.” – racked.com