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Old 10-16-2006, 05:40 AM   #1
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Default Bizarre Hair Tackle

Steelers victory had everything, including a bizarre hair tackle
Monday, October 16, 2006

By Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

No matter how you cut it, it was a good hair day for Troy Polamalu and the Steelers.

The free-wheeling safety was dragged down by the long locks that flow out of his helmet during an interception return that will be re-run more often than a Seinfeld episode. And who knows what the fallout would have been if the play had had a direct impact on the team's 45-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

As it was, the tackle and an ensuing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Kansas City's Larry Johnson turned out to be little more than a conversation piece and a point of levity in the locker room.

"No, it didn't hurt," Polamalu said in the aftermath. "It felt good."

He did concede that he had never been dragged down by his hair before.

"No, but if I got the ball in my hands, they can tackle me all day like that," Polamalu said. "We had a lot of fun out there."

For the record, any part of a player's hair that extends from the helmet is considered part of the uniform and is fair game for a tackler. It's known as the Ricky Williams rule for the running back who favored dreadlocks as his hairstyle. The NFL has instituted a new rule that prevents tacklers from collaring a ball carrier from behind, but that may be splitting hairs.

Although Johnson held onto Polamalu's hair and looked as though he twisted it when Polamalu bounced back up, he later explained that he tried to let go but his fingers got stuck. He thought the penalty was called because he hit defensive back Ike Taylor in an aftermath that could be described as a hairy moment.

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Postgame commentary on Chiefs RB Larry Johnson's "hairy" tackle of Steelers' safety Troy Polamalu:
Troy Polamalu
Has he ever been 'hair tackled' before?
Bill Cowher
"It's not hard to do with Troy's hair ..."

"I mean, the dude had hair. What do you want me to do?" Johnson said. "They said that hair is part of the uniform the last time I checked. When I grabbed him, that's the only thing I could get my hands on. It's not like I was trying to jerk him down...If you know anybody who has long hair, you take your hand and run it through somebody's head, it's going to get stuck, and that's what happened. Trying to get my hands out of it was the hard part."

So now everybody knows the shaggy look is not the work of extensions.

Long regarded as the best safety in football by coach Bill Cowher, Polamalu is like a human highlight reel for the way he flits all over the field, running with the speed of a cornerback and hitting with the ferocity of a linebacker to disrupt offenses. Although teammates have nicknamed him The Tasmanian Devil for his appearance and his play, he could also be called The Mane Man in the Steelers secondary. Hey, Samson performed better with long hair too.

The 'do isn't for show, though. His grandparents hail from the island village of Tau, which is part of American Samoa. The long hair is a symbol of his heritage and the Samoan warrior tradition.

If the interception did anything, it showed football fans that Polamula is recovered from a shoulder injury that hampered him during a three-game losing streak.

"He played like a warrior. You can see what happens when he's healthy," said defensive lineman Brett Keisel. "That's one of the risks you take if you grow your hair out. I try to keep my jersey as tight as it can be .... But that's who Troy is. He's got that warrior mentality. It kind of fits the part with his mop. He is incredible."

The play happened during the third quarter after the Chiefs had recovered a fumble. Quarterback Duane Huard's pass was deflected, and Polamalu stepped in to pick it off. He ran to his right and was speeding down the sideline when Johnson caught him from behind. Everybody went down in a whirling furball of tangled bodies.

"Someone did a great job of tipping the ball, and I was just blessed to be in the right spot at the right time," said Polamalu, whose ferocity on the field stands in stark contrast to the soft-spoken demeanor he has off it.

He didn't mind the manner of being hauled down at all.

"It really doesn't matter to me. He can tackle me by my hair or my ankles. It doesn't matter. I understand the nature of the game. A lot of things like that can happen," he said.

Some words were exchanged on the sideline when the opposing players tangled. But Steelers defenders understood what Johnson did.

"He said [the hair] got caught in his fingers, and he apologized," said linebacker Larry Foote. "If I was Larry Johnson, I would have grabbed for the hair, too. It's either grab the hair or give him the touchdown, one or the other, so you have to grab him."

Mid-October is rarely a time for intense scoreboard watching. But the defending Super Bowl champs benefited from losses by Cincinnati and Baltimore earlier yesterday afternoon, making their situation much brighter than it was going in. Plus, one of the folksier cliches in football is that winning is the best deodorant.

"Obviously, we have our backs to the wall still. It's not like we haven't been there before. We'll just keep on working hard, as we have been," Polamalu said. "We played really good football, but we haven't played a whole game. There were times our defense slowed down a little bit [yesterday], which we can't allow to happen. So there's a lot left for us to work on."

When asked if he would be getting a haircut today, Polamalu chuckled softly.

"I lost half of it already," he said.
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Old 10-16-2006, 05:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bizarre Hair Tackle

I just love that guy........a real classy player.

I still think that tackling by pulling the hair is the equivilent of fighting like a girl. Play football like a man, you fool!
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 10-16-2006, 06:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: Bizarre Hair Tackle

im surprised the nfl allows long hair.baseball,basketball,hockey & soccer does not permit long hair.
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:15 AM   #4
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Default Re: Bizarre Hair Tackle

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Originally Posted by james203 View Post
im surprised the nfl allows long hair.baseball,basketball,hockey & soccer does not permit long hair.
There are people with long hair that have played in all of those sports.
Baseball-Bronson Arroyo
basketball- Ben Wallace
hockey- who cares
soccer- Alexis Lalas sp?
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Bizarre Hair Tackle

I agree that Troy is incredible. As far as Johnson's fingers getting tangled....BS!!!! If they were tangled then why was his hand in a clenched fist position as he was twisting and dragging him???????

You da man, Troy!!!
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Bizarre Hair Tackle

While it's said to be legal to tackle a player by the hair, I still do not see how it isn't considered to be a horse collar tackle. I mean you're doing the same thing by pulling a player down by the hair as you would be if you grabbed him by the back of the collar ...
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Old 10-16-2006, 08:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: Bizarre Hair Tackle

I watched an interview with Troy on Fedko's post game show last night and Troy said if he had been Johnson, he would have done the same thing. At first, I felt Johnson was flagrantly holding on to Troy's hair, but after listening to Troy and my belief that LJ is a classy player overall, I understand it.
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:02 AM   #8
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Default Re: Bizarre Hair Tackle

I agree with the league rule on the hair.
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:42 AM   #9
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Default Re: Bizarre Hair Tackle

Some enterprising shampoo company will get Troy to do a commercial for them after that I'm sure.
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Old 10-16-2006, 12:13 PM   #10
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I agree with the league rule on the hair.
your signature picture is the coolest one on the forum
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