Friday, January 17, 2014

Dear Rob Ryan...

Don't ever cut your hair.

OK, you can cut it for Locks for Love or some equivalent charity. Or if it's a personal style choice. Maybe even if you lose a flashy bet. But please don't do it to appease some uptight team owner.

I figure you know this already, but bosses who obsess over hair length are generally not that much fun to work for anyway. You're going to be looking over your shoulder the whole time, subconsciously (if not consciously) suppressing everything that makes you who you are. And make no mistake — your personality quirks factor heavily into what makes you competent as a professional.

Professionalism is too often (incorrectly) defined as being cookie-cutter and bland. Competence does require discipline, training and experience. But it doesn't mean someone can't have long hair and/or be flamboyant, especially in a field that ultimately amounts to entertainment. Such attributes should come into play only when they become insurmountable distractions — but such distractions can just as easily arise from the deeds of the cookie-cuttered.

(If there's a safety concern, fine, ax the hair. But that doesn't apply to coaching football, unless perhaps if you're close to Jim Harbaugh during a moment when he really wants cake.)

We're well past the age where scruffiness should be so controversial. Hell, that was true when I was born. There are still plenty of very old-fashioned executives who feel differently, granted, but their breed is dying. Which is why you should continue to be you.

We need people like you, Rob, to remind society that genius comes in all sartorial forms. You will never be shut out of football as long as you continue to produce wins, so there's no need to ever sell out your individuality to anyone. They aren't worth your presence anyhow.

And while we're at it, can you please put off your head-coaching aspirations as long as possible? Is that too much to ask? No matter what you decide, though, Who Dat Nation digs you. And your majestic hair.

Party on, Ryan!

— Ian (A fan)

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