Hair today, gone tomorrow
by Joe Cannon
Feb 03, 2013 | 1131 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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BANNER SPORTS EDITOR Richard Roberts, left, checks out his former ponytail as hairstylist Sissy Hilliard holds up a 12-inch section she cut off Friday for a Locks of Love donation. Banner photo, CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Today is the greatest day of the year for football fans, especially if you’re a 49ers or Ravens fan this time around.

I’m neither, as I was hoping for a Falcons-Titans Super Bowl, but the boys in Nashville were out of it in September and the Birds from “Hotlanta” were right on the brink, but cooled off at the wrong time.

I would have been happy with a Packers-Broncos matchup.

Green Bay and the Falcons were my childhood favorites. When I was around 10, I read every word of Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap’s book “Instant Replay,” which was a diary of the 1967 Packers championship season, which culminated in their second of back-to-back victories in the first two Super Bowls.

Of course like any good Tennessee Vol fan, a little bit of my heart went to the Rocky Mountains when Peyton Manning signed with Denver and looked like the Peyton of old in directing the Broncos into the playoffs.

But I digress.

Although the game doesn’t kick off until 6:30 this evening, the two-week hype building up to it has been unreal this time around.

From the intrigue of the Harbaugh brothers coaching against each other, to the controversy of New Zealand deer antler spray possibly helping a potential Hall of Famer return from injury for one last run at a title, no stone has been left unturned.

The non-football sports world has also been topsy-turvy since the turn of the calender with Manti Te’o’s “love of his life” dead girlfriend turning out to be a love-struck dude and Lance Armstrong being thankful for the Notre Dame linebacker taking the spotlight off him and his Orpah confession to his doping secrets.

However while all the attention is focused on New Orleans for today’s game, something happened Friday morning in our own little town that will “shock and awe” the Bradley and Polk County sports fans.

Something that has been a part of the local sports scene for the past decade is no longer with us — Banner Sports Editor Richard Roberts’ ponytail.

Twelve inches of his braided strands were clipped off as a donation to Locks of Love, which “provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.”

“I’ve had it for more than 10 years,” my boss explained to me earlier this week. “It’s going to be different (to be without it), but I’ll probably start growing it back as soon as I can and never cut it again.”

Being a child of the 1960s and ’70s myself, I understand the appeal of long hair on men and I’m impressed by Richard’s sacrifice.

I too once gave up my long locks, but for a much less noble reason.

As a middle school student in the early 1970s, I wanted to express my individualism by letting my hair grow, but when my brother David and I tried doing that, we butted heads with our dear parents.

They raised us in a very traditional Church of God of Prophecy home, where boys got burr haircuts in the summer and girls weren’t allowed to cut their hair. The day after school let out for the summer each year we were taken to “Lightning” Whaley’s barber shop on Spring Place Road. He only knew one haircut, and that was all off.

In later years when the Hall boys (John and Flavus) opened their barber shop at the corner of Randolph-Samples Road and Waterlevel Highway, we’d go out there for our trims.

After dad became exasperated with our constant feuding over our hair, he finally told us one day “to grow it to your butts,” if we wanted to. Dad has always hated to argue, encouraging us to be “lovers, not fighters.”

David, who is four years older than me, and I promptly let our hair grow down past our shoulders.

When I was in the eighth grade at Bradley Elementary (before it became Bradley Junior then Ocoee Middle and Rudy Felton was one of my teachers) my hair reached its greatest length, about a third of the way down my back.

When temperatures began to rise in May of that year, I decided one day it was time to get sheared. I walked from my Meadow Lane home to the Hall’s shop and asked John how much a haircut would cost? He said $1.50, but I only had $1.10.

He was used to Mom bringing me back when I didn’t get enough cut off, so he asked me if I wanted “a trim or a real haircut.” I told him I wanted a real haircut, up above my ears. John said “sit down, I’ll cut it for free.”

When I got home, Mom almost fainted and I think Dad cried when he saw me. At school the next morning, my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Grace Withrow, didn’t know who I was and thought I was a new student in her class.

While I did keep my hair down on my collar and over my ears throughout high school, I shortened it quite a bit for most of my adult life until five years ago, when I came back to the Banner and saw Richard’s ponytail. It inspired me to let my hair grow back out and enjoy it while I still have it.

About that same time I started working with B.J.’s Costumes as a Santa for parties during the Christmas season, so for the first couple of years I would let my beard grow from August until New Year’s.

Three years ago I decide to try letting it grow throughout the year to get some extra length on it for the holidays and have ever since, getting it trimmed and shaped up about three or four times a year.

I’ve been very surprised at the many compliments and positive comments I get about it year-round. One Walker Valley wrestler while walking out of the Raider Dome after the region duals the other day stopped to tell me how much he liked “the beard.” I’m thinking about trying to get a walk-on part on “Duck Dynasty.”

While Richard’s ponytail inspired me to let my hair and whiskers grow, his sacrifice has also touched me and I’m considering a request from lifelong friend Dennis Carroll. A couple of years ago he requested that when I decided to shave my beard off to bring it to him so he could have a hairpiece made of it for himself.

I’m not quite there yet Dennis, but seeing Richard’s selfless act, I’m considering it.