Wed, Oct 18, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Polamalu says there is `no bad blood' over hair tackle

AP , PITTSBURGH

Super Bowl winner Troy Polamalu wears his hair long as a tribute to his Samoan heritage.

It spills out from under his NFL helmet and frizzes down his back.

Known as one of the league's top safeties, Polamalu was back to his best on Sunday following a shoulder injury, which meant he was irritating and disrupting the visiting Kansas City Chiefs.

As he notched 10 tackles and three pass breakups in the Pittsburgh Steelers' 45-7 rout, it was easy to see how Polamalu got into the Chiefs' hair, and their frustration was never more evident than when he made an interception and was returning it 49 yards.

Larry Johnson's only solution in pursuit was to grab Polamalu's long black hair and yank him to the turf. It was the first time someone had pulled at Polamalu's hair in three seasons in the NFL.

Afterward, he clearly didn't want to talk about the incident, which he knows will be replayed constantly on the US highlights shows.

"It's the only thing I could get my hands on," Johnson said.

"If you know somebody with long hair, you take your hand and run it through somebody's hair, it's going to get stuck. That's what happened," he said.

"It wasn't like I was trying to jerk him around after I made the tackle," Johnson added.

Polamalu, a two-time Pro Bowl safety in his first two seasons as a starter, understands he takes the risk of being tackled by his hair on plays such as the one on Sunday -- just as running backs Ricky Williams and Edgerrin James once risked the same thing by wearing their hair long.

"I'm glad it happened," Polamalu said. "It means I've got the ball in my hands. If I've got the ball in my hands, they can tackle me all day like that. He can tackle me by my hair or my ankles. It doesn't matter, I understand that the nature of the game is that things like that can happen, and there's no bad blood at all."

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