The Hair-Raising Moment Every NFL Player Dreads

The first surprising thing about this play is that it was legal.

That's right, when Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans launched his body in the direction of Chris Ivory of the Buffalo Bills, he was acting completely within NFL rules as his grasping fingers found a lock of his opponent's hair.

As Ivory plummeted groundwards in the manner of a man who'd just crashed headlong into a wall that wasn't there, you feared momentarily for his wellbeing. That, right there, was quite the back slam.

But Ivory was OK, and despite amusing tweets suggesting a penalty, the tackle was both hunky and dory according to the rules.

In 2003 the NFL changed its rule so that hair was effectively part of an athlete's uniform. Since then, it's been OK to grab a player by the hair which, by association, is part of the jersey.

All of which makes you wonder why so many players keep their hair long  in the modern age, especially dreadlocks which are chunky and highly grabbable.

Indeed, Jadeveon Clowney -- the payer who made this tackle -- has dreads himself. That's the second twist in this toussled tale, and it's why the commentators called the play "hair on long hair crime", which was amusing if technically inaccurate.

"I tried to do whatever it takes to make that tackle. I just reached out there and tried to grab for the jersey and pulled his hair," Clowney said after the game.

The 25-year-old Texans defender admitted he'd had his own hair pulled a few times, but added an emhpatic "naaaw, man" when asked if he thought having long hair was a bad idea.

OK then.

Here in Australia's NRL, it is not legal to pull players by the hair. Indeed Brisbane Bronco Josh McGuire was suspended for a week as recently as August this year for a hair pull on Bulldog Adam Elliott.

Hair-pulling is also a major no-no in the AFL, right up there with other crimes like pinching and believing the West Coast Eagles club song is tuneful.