Troy Polamalu-Clay Matthews hair battle

Originally Published: February 1, 2011
By Jim Caple | Page 2

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There was a guy dressed as a matador asking to be lifted up by players, a guy wearing some sort of "Hot Tub Time Machine" getup and a guy in a superhero costume from Nickelodeon. But that was really about as elaborate as the costumes got for Super Bowl XLV media day. It was still a circus -- the requisite kid from My Weekly Reader was on hand to ask questions -- but compared with past media days, this was so relatively respectable that Edward R. Murrow might as well have been in charge Tuesday.

Super Bowl media day isn't exactly a course they teach at the Columbia School of Journalism, though perhaps they should offer it at the graduate level. When you wake up hundreds and hundreds of sports writers so early they haven't even gotten their hangovers yet, dispatch them into arctic cold across icy highways, park them in a lot across the street from the stadium, shuttle them around the neighborhood for half an hour to cross that very street, force them through security patdowns so invasive they should include a post-screening cigarette, pen them up for upwards of an hour and then give them exactly 60 minutes -- the time is kept on the scoreboard and you can't spike the ball to stop the clock -- to question a couple dozen football players about an upcoming game they've already been pestered about nonstop for eight days, you shouldn't expect the Frost-Nixon interviews.

With all the trained, experienced reporters digging and all the players required to be there, you're just hoping that someone, somewhere will ask and get the answer to the tough, important question everyone wants to know:

Who puts more effort into his hair care -- Troy Polamalu or Clay Matthews?

"Clay. Every time you see him, he's got a water bottle and he's spraying water on it to keep his hair moist," Green Bay linebacker Erik Walden said. "It seems like every time he makes a big play and comes back to the sidelines, I see him with a water bottle and he's squirting it on his hair, I guess to keep it shiny for the ladies. I swear it's just for the look."

"Troy, because it's curly," said Pittsburgh practice squad receiver Tyler Grisham. "You have to condition it daily. You have to brush it out and keep it from getting tangled. I mean, it has to be Troy. We don't like to watch his hair care. That's something that's private. He can't share his secrets with the world because then everybody would be on TV and making a lot of money off it. He has his own box and no one really knows what he uses. He brushes his hair. We know he washes it and conditions it but we really don't know with what."

Well, maybe he doesn't tell the scout team players, Tyler. But Steelers lineman Chris Scott has a pretty good idea what Polamalu uses (possibly because he watches TV). "He most definitely has his Head and Shoulders. And he has his Head and Shoulders. And he has a lot more Head and Shoulders."

I would have asked Polamalu himself but there was such a thick wall of sports writers surrounding him that the only possible way I could have sneaked through is if I had yelled, "Free doughnuts and beer over here!" So I stuck with their teammates, whose support, not surprisingly, broke down along party lines.

"I like Clay's," Green Bay linebacker Frank Zombo said. "I sit next to him on the bench, and I'm always getting hit with his hair flings and his water flings. He's got some nice hair, huh?"

Jim Caple is a senior writer for You can follow him on Twitter at jimcaple.

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ESPN Senior Writer
Author of "The Devil Wears Pinstripes" and winner of a Sports Emmy. Reported from 17 World Series, 9 Olympics, 6 continents.