Troy's Bear shows his human side

Updated: July 8, 2009, 6:29 PM ET
By Bruce Feldman
Bear Woods isn't just one of the best names in college football. The Troy linebacker, with his long dreadlocks and crazy game-day face paint, is one of the more interesting characters, too. Oh, and he's one of the country's better linebackers.

Anyone who saw the Trojans' R+L Carriers Bowl game against Southern Miss could confirm that Woods can be a pretty scary-looking dude. I had a chance to chat with him this week and was really glad I did. The story behind those rope-curl dreads that cover half the numbers on his back: He first had the idea to grow his hair long to honor the mother of one of his best friends who was battling cancer. Eventually, after Woods' hair grew 10 inches, he had it cut and donated it to Locks of Love, an organization that turns hair into wigs for financially disadvantaged kids suffering from hair loss because of a medical condition, often cancer.

"I'd really seen the whole process, and I did it as a way to help," he says.