Troy Polamalu wears a wig imitating his own hair during Super Bowl Media… (John G. Mabanglo / EPA )
Bandits and bad weather often move from west to east in this country and, lo and behold, so do some very important trends. Two of pro football's toughest hombres, both (surprise!) former Californians by way of USC, have given this Super Bowl some style cues you wouldn't normally run across in Green Bay or Pittsburgh. Think of them as hairy updates on Hercules.
Troy Polamalu is one. Tender as a pipe wrench, he toils for the Steelers of Pittsburgh. He moves across a football field like a hologram — sort of here, sort of there, sort of everywhere. He is faster than a Champagne cork.
Clay Matthews is the other. The Green Bay linebacker pounces on opponents like a pit bull on a pork chop. You don't block him, you just pray he trips and falls on a referee.
And both — oh my God — wear their hair like your kid sister.
Is this Super Bowl XLV or "Tangled II"?
"These guys have to be pretty comfortable with their masculinity to wear their hair like that," said celebrity stylist Theodore Leaf, who has worked with Taylor Swift and Heather Morris.
In some shots, Matthews looks as if he's posing for a romance novel. Polamalu, who actually has insured his hair with Lloyd's of London, is straight out of a box of Brillo.
How do you cut hair like that? Weed wacker? Blow torch? Hair today, gone tomorrow.
Of course, what's really important is that, ounce for ounce, these dudes are tougher than a $2 steak. If they want to pass themselves off as mermaids, I respect that. I've watched enough "Oprah" to know that what's on the inside is what really counts.
But others among us are more judgmental. This is, after all, Los Angeles — where good hair is our only cash crop.
"Fabio or football player?" wondered Janine Jarman of Hairroin Salon in Hollywood, when she saw the shot of Matthews.
"He looks like a head banger," said stylist Campbell McAuley, whose clients include Salma Hayek and Carrie Underwood.
L.A. may not have a football team, but eat your heart out, America: We almost definitely have the nation's greatest celebrity stylists.
So we asked these quippers with the clippers: Can these manes be saved?
"Troy looks like he's wearing a wig and is no way ready to play sweaty football," Jarman said. "I think if he loves his long locks, he should braid them to keep him out of his face and sweaty neck — like Willie Nelson. He should also get a good hot-oil treatment and frequent trims."
"He looks more like a viking. … I love his hair," a more charitable Michael Sparks, who works out of the Chris McMillan Salon, said of Matthews. "I'd clean it, layer it ... so it has movement."
Of the two players, Polamalu's hair came in for the most criticism.
Australian locks-smith McAuley explained that one of the good qualities about a football helmet — and it's kind of amazing you haven't given this more thought — is that a player is getting a constant steam treatment.
"It gets hot in there," he explained. So Polamalu "needs some major conditioning and some curl control."
McAuley says Matthews could pull off a " '50s James Dean buzz cut." Polamalu, he says, might go with the style Paul McCartney or John Lennon wore in their hippie "Let It Be" days.
Sparks says he'd go with something even more radical for the Steelers safety.
"I'd take Troy to an old-school barber," said Sparks, who played college football at California and had a tryout with the Kansas City Chiefs. "It'd take it to one inch on top and taper the sides. … I would take it all the way off."
"I would like to see a complete makeover for Troy," agreed Laurent DuFourg, owner and founder of Privé Salon and Products. "I wouldn't mind taking the buzzer to him and giving him the Barack Obama."
"I wouldn't mind seeing it flat ironed like the guy in Black Eyed Peas," Jarman said. "And no longer than below the shoulders."
"If you look at Troy's face, he looks like A-Rod," Leaf said referring to Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. "If he cut it all off … golden."
Overall, the stylists thought Matthews was in less need of drastic surgery, but he also needed work.
"Losing an inch or so wouldn't hurt," Jarman said. "It's tricky with long hair on men. It needs to be healthy and manageable. So layering it up with a little baliage [free-style highlights] to boot might do the trick in giving his tired, overgrown locks the effortless, beachy surfer look instead."
"Clay has great hair," DuFourg said. "I would definitely ... take about five inches off. To complement his fair skin, I would also add a few light blond highlights."
Yeah, blond highlights. I'm pretty sure that's what Ray Nitschke used to do.