Fashion is a subjective topic and something we freely admit to not being experts here at The Sportster. But every now and again an athlete expresses their showmanship in a manner that simply defies belief.
From mullets to afros, rats tails to buzz cuts, pampered sports stars prove to us time and again that they have too much time and too much money on their hands. Sane people do not make these choices. People who pay their taxes and go to their 9 to 5 jobs have responsibilities to uphold. Somewhere along the line these athletes fell into the entertainment bubble and never got out. As Eric Blatterberg showed us earlier this year, crazy haircuts are best left to the wrestling fraternity. The theatre and spectacle of the sport demands a certain panache to set the scene and keep the viewer interested, but not for other sports.
What coach would want his running back screaming down the touchline with dreadlocks reaching down to his ankles? Or what type of basketball shooter requires a fringe that drops below the eye line? These are occupational hazards and they need to be called out for their insanity. As modern 21st century society adapts to an evolving populous we change our definition of what is and is not acceptable. But as sports fans we need to put our foot down and hold onto some traditional values. It’s time to put away the scissors and prepare the straitjacket.
Now we have to bring out our little black notebook to name and shame those 20 athletes who sported the craziest haircuts. Parental discretion is advised.
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20 A.J. Burnett
As a pitcher in Major League Baseball, attention to detail is paramount to get success. What possessed A.J. Burnett to sport a sharp, spaghetti western-style blond haircut for the Yankees in 2011 then is beyond all logic. But the critics didn’t seem to care as long as he threw the ball to a decent standard. Daily News journalist Wayne Coffey said, "A.J. Burnett can pitch a little better as a blond then he did with his old hair.” Apparently not well enough though as A.J. was out the door just 2 years into his stint with New York.
19 Rodrigo Palacio
The rattail carries plenty of negative connotations as it is without Argentina soccer star Rodrigo Palacio giving us weekly reminders. The Inter Milan front man has made the look distinctively his own though, and you have to credit him for that. Since moving from Italian rivals Genoa, Palacio has stood out from the crowd with a look more commonly seen in sewers than the soccer pitch. England’s tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail led with a headline during Brazil 2014, “Is Rodrigo Palacio’s off-centre rat-tail the worst haircut in World Cup history?” Harsh, but he certainly makes the conversation.
18 Antonio Garay
Shocking haircuts and Hello Kitty cars is not the life of the regular NFL player, but that’s how Antonio Garay rolls. The nose tackle has changed haircuts more than clubs, going to town on his head and facial hair like a bucks party. At San Diego, Garay would infuse the colors and styles of the Chargers logo for kicks, inscribing messages even for charity. If the price was right I’m sure a Sportster logo wouldn’t be off limits, it would be more sensible than half of what’s been on there.
17 Tiger Woods
We were warned. Tiger’s “midlife crisis” moment should have been noted before Nike pulled their support after the scandal that shocked sports. Tiger wanted to literally live up to his name and went out in public with blotched blonde spots on his head for some reason. The golfing legend is smiling in the photo, but it might have come before a flurry of tears when he realized he’s a grown man with an image to uphold. So much for that idea!
16 Carlos Valderrama
1980s Colombian soccer players didn’t come anymore flamboyant than Carlos Valderrama, not by a long way. By all measurements Carlos was a colossus on the pitch despite his modest 5ft 9 frame, with his giant blond afro giving the midfielder a swagger unparalleled in modern sports. Valderrama’s look is only “crazy” by societies standards and expectations, though secretly we all want to have the Carlos ‘fro at one time in our lives. We just don’t recommend it for people in the witness protection program!
15 Ron Artest
Phil Jackson loves his players to express themselves, but Ron Artest’s bleached haircut would have tested his patience. The man called Ron-Ron had the word “defense” inscribed in purple to match the Lakers colors, so he gets credit from the marketing team. The word was not in English, but a Hebrew/Japanese/Hindi translation just in case the bizarre appearance was too “mainstream.” Perhaps the whiteboard is the best spot to get your tactical cues Ron-Ron because it’s a funny look at the first viewing but after a while it looks like a desperate cry for attention.
14 Scot Pollard
Most of the time, a crazy haircut will require a crazy personality. Former NBA journeyman Scot Pollard fits that profile, with the former Piston, Cavs, Pacers, Kings and Celtics big man outdoing himself with a tiny blond mohawk during his time in Cleveland. This year Pollard entered into the 32nd season of Survivor after a brief acting hiatus. Best known for his outlandish statements and scattergun behavior, we really have no idea what Pollard will come up with next, let alone what haircut he’ll be sporting!
13 Iman Shumpert
You have to be confident to ask the barber for a flat top, I don’t care who you are. The Cavs shooting guard probably doesn’t need to take fashion tips when he’s earning $10 million a year for the next 4 years from his new Cleveland contract, but TMZ caught the player walking the street with a dreadlocked man bun in July. NBA stars have no reason to be upset being hassled by the public, because those hairstyles stand out like a sore thumb. Just ask for short back and sides next time Iman.
12 Colin Miller
The sport of cricket is the ultimate gentleman’s game. All the players wear white, they put on the same colored pads and helmets, and everyone conforms to the rules and regulations. Then all of a sudden Australian off-spinner Colin Miller entered the Sydney Cricket Ground with a bright blue cut! The Test Match was only 2 days into the new year and maybe the man they called “Funky Miller” had a big night on the town. Cricket has never seen the likes before or since, god bless you Funky.
11 Andrei Kirilenko
Sorry Andrei but 1985 Soviet Union called and they want their haircut back. The Russian forward’s blond mop was so bad one USA Today headline pronounced, “Andrei Kirilenko got a haircut and it’s surprisingly acceptable.” He did what Iman should have asked for with the short back and sides look, a clean aesthetic that you would be happy to take back to your mother. His return to CSKA Moscow ended in retirement this year. Let’s hope the blond mop is permanently put out to pasture as well.
10 Troy Polamalu
The temptation to pull those black locks must be so tempting for some opposition players in the NFL. Troy Polamlu’s warrior styling syncs in perfectly with the black and gold of the Pittsburgh Steelers, yet we can’t help but imagine why he hasn’t tried a less is more approach follically speaking. It’s a distinctive look from Polamalu, but we’ll let you be the judge whether or not it’s crazy. If he can pick up a few Pantene endorsements then at least he’s making the most of a bad situation.
9 Abel Xavier
The look really does speak for itself and my word is it impressive. At one point the Portuguese footballer would have woken up and thought, “I really like blond” and just stuck with it through thick and thin for the next decade and counting. Xavier was a true soccer journeyman, going from Spain to Holland, England to Germany and finally ending in la la land with the LA Galaxy. Even by Hollywood standards the thick blond streaks and dyed beard felt a bit much.
The original is still the best. Or maybe not in Ronaldo’s case, the Brazilian Ronaldo that is. The wonderful striker had a momentary fashion faux pas when he shaved his entire heard, except for the fringe! What would possess a man to do that? The enigmatic striker does not have the poster boy good looks of his namesake Cristiano, so the decision to cut everything but the front classifies Ronaldo as pure crazy.
7 Jared Allen
This is a mullet more accustomed to reality television show Hoarders or Duck Dynasty, not the NFL! Jared Allen wore the mullet with pride that he spoke about it as a lifestyle. “If someone asks if you want extra mayonnaise,” Allen told the press, “you have to say ‘yes’ cause that’s part of it.” Why Jared? Did you lose a bet? Unless you’re confined to a trailer park in the deep south, there is no suitable explanation to shave the sides and let the mullet grow.
6 Tim Tebow
Anyone who has watched an early episode of Hard Knocks knows rookies get a tough initiation into football and the shearers come out in force. Poor Tim Tebow was subject to the Friar Tuck look in 2010 by the Broncos and the quarterback never really recovered after that. The free agent’s kneel and prayer before a game coined the phrase “Tebowing” even to the point where it was in the Madden video game, but no amount of divine intervention could stop the Broncos from scaring the guy for life after that moment. Of all the Robin Hood characters to emulate, Friar Tuck was the worst choice possible. Poor Tim.
5 Coco Crisp
Baseball caps only provide so much sun protection.Wherever there is a problem, Coco Crisp has a solution. The Oakland A’s outfielder has evolved his haircut down the years, starting with a clean cut look to cornrows to beads before the “Super Afro” took hold in 2012. Coco had his second best season for stealing bases and the hilarious look proved that the more hair Crisp had to work with the better he played. Coco subsequently matted down the piece to something more socially acceptable but far less appealing. We prefer Crazy Coco “Super Afro” Crisp, those were the days.
4 Carlos Boozer
Fake it until you make it – that was the motto Carlos Boozer lived by during a truly crazy spell when he sported a pure black sharpie haircut. Even today it is hard to gauge how or what it is as it appears partly computer-generated and pixilated to the naked eye. Boozer finished his career as a power forward with the Lakers in 2015, but the black colored-in top still leaves us scratching our heads in bemusement.
3 Peter Wright
No one dedicates themselves to a crazy haircut like darts player Peter Wright. He told the British press his wife Jo takes 2 hours out of her day, everyday, to do Peter’s hair. To be fair she is incredibly talented, with Wright sporting an open-mouthed snake ready for the pounce on the side of his head and a mohawk colored in pink, blue and yellow. The goatee color utilizes those 3 colors to boot, just to complete the set. Wright was pictured in 1995 with a simple short back and sides traditional cut so what happened between then and now is nothing short of remarkable and outright crazy.
2 Taribo West
The late 1990s was a crazy time for everybody. We had the Y2K epidemic to worry about and Will Smith thought America was ready for him to start a rapping career, how wrong we all were. But Taribo West has no excuse because the stumpy bright green dreads had no place on any soccer pitch. The Nigerian defender lit up France 1998 and Japan/Korea 2002 with his outlandish style which caught the eye for players and fans everywhere. His club career never really took off, yet he can rest comfortably in the knowledge he made his mark on the world game.
1 Dennis Rodman
Larger than life Dennis Rodman takes the cake for the craziest haircuts in sports. The only problem is, we don’t really know which one to talk about. Bright blue, pink, orange, yellow, green, Earnie cartoons, afros, Bulls logos, you name it Dennis wore it on his head. The iconic and divisive basketball star channeled his best work on the court under Phil Jackson with his all star Chicago Bulls team that took the NBA by storm. While Jordan took all the acclaim, it is easy to forget Rodman took the headlines and his hair had a lot to do with it!
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