On Sunday Washington running back Rob Kelley ran for 45 yards before he was caught from behind by Philadelphia defensive back Rodney McLeod, who grabbed Kelley’s long dreadlocks and yanked him down by the hair. An official threw a flag for a horse-collar tackle.
But after a conference, the referee announced that there was no foul on the play. And NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said in a video distributed to the media today that the officials made the right decision by not calling a penalty.
“The issue is whether he grabs inside the collar or the shoulder pad, grabs the jersey at the name plate or above, or grabs the hair,” Blandino said. “You could see the player actually grabs the hair, not the back of the jersey at the nameplate and not inside the collar. Grabbing the hair and pulling the runner toward the ground is legal.”
Players who choose to wear their hair long enough that it hangs out the backs of their helmets need to beware: That hair is fair game for any opponent who wants to pull it.