Getting tackled in the Canadian Football League can be a hair-raising experience, and it is all perfectly legal.
The issue has come up this week after Montreal Alouettes' kick returner Trent Guy was pulled down during a punt return by his long hair, which he wears in dreadlocks, last Sunday in Montreal's 31-10 win over the Toronto Argonauts. There was no penalty on the play and rightly so, said CFL director of officiating Tom Higgins. A flag was thrown after Toronto's Mike Bradwell performed the hair tackle, but it was overturned.
"At the end of the day, they had to make the rules fair for the guys who don't have hair," laughed Bombers' wide receiver Kito Poblah, who has dreadlocks that touch his shoulders. Bombers defensive backs Jonathan Hefney and Alex Suber also have dreadlocks.
"It is, I guess, a precaution. You've just got to hope that nobody grabs your hair and keep your head low," said Poblah, who recorded his first CFL touchdown in last Friday's 34-12 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Canad Inns Stadium.
Though it's not a widely accepted way to tackle an opponent, Poblah said it's happened to him so he's adapted his 'do to the rule.
"I knew that and that's why I trim mine," Poblah said. "They've been this length for a while now."
Bombers head coach Tim Burke said his players can decide for themselves if their hair is a hindrance or not.
"I’m not going to tell them what to do with their hair. I remember when I was a teenager, I wanted to grow my hair long and my dad wouldn’t let me," Burke said, with a smile.
"It’s part of the equipment and I knew that so it didn’t surprise me when they didn’t flag him for it."
In a Canadian Press story, Higgins commented that players’ long hair is considered to be part of the players' equipment and can be used in tackling.
"It’s part of the uniform. It’s like tackling a guy by the arm," Higgins said. "It’s part of him so you’re allowed to use it to make a tackle."
In other Bombers news out of Tuesday's practice, slotback Terrence Edwards, left tackle Glenn January and cornerback Johnny Sears did not practise. Burke said all were just resting bumps and bruises.