Hairy Issue

So the hot topic for this week’s NFL Meetings is big hair.

No, team owners and league officials will not be debating the best hair bands of the 80’s, they are going to talk about a proposal put forth by the Kansas City Chiefs to ban hair so long, it covers a player’s name and number.

Of course, the worst offender of this is Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, and he’s also the inspiration for the proposed change.

During a game against the Chiefs in 2006, Polamalu intercepted a pass, and was dragged down by the hair by Chiefs running back Larry Johnson.

The Chiefs say it’s a safety issue. You could argue the players with the long hair know it’s not against the rules to use it as a tackling aid, so it’s their bad for not getting a haircut.

Seriously, this is a pretty trivial thing. NFL players hate having their personalities stifled. And it’s really flimsy if you go with the reasoning of 49ers coach Mike Nolan. He says the long hair keeps fans from being able to identify players. Isn’t the long hair the REASON we can recognize them?

With Asante Samuel and Donte Stallworth gone, and Matt Light the likely victim of a wife-ordered haircut, it’s up to Laurence Maroney and Brandon Merriweather to stand up for the long haired here in New England.

Other rules changes proposed by the League Competition Committee:

– Granting wild card teams home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs if they have a better record than the division winner. The thought here is to keep division winners from benching all of their starters after clinching (and thus essentially tanking any remaining games). Tampa Bay and Indianapolis were the most notable teams to do this last year, although you’d think the entire league would take note of the New York Giants, who played hard in what was a meaningless final game for them against the Patriots, and rode that performance all the way to the Super Bowl.

– Forcing receivers to get both feet in bounds on a catch, even if they are pushed out by a defender. The NFL is concerned about referees making bad judgement calls. But opponents say it will shorten the field and ultimately cut down on scoring.

– Allowing instant replay on field goals. This one is a no-brainer, especially if you saw Phil Dawson’s pinball like kick against Baltimore that cleared the uprights, hit the rear crossbar and bounce back.

-SI

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