Long, flowing dreadlocks have become a signature look for Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith in Baltimore. On Sunday afternoons, he has seen Ravens fans adorning dreadlocked wigs, the kind you would buy at one of those costume shops that pop up out of nowhere around Halloween. Others wear T-shirts that are replicas of his purple Ravens jersey, with black screen-printed dreadlocks covering up his surname above his number 82.
“Around here, people are kind of obsessed,” the second-year wide receiver said Wednesday with a smile.
In the famous biblical narrative, the great Samson, he of the magical hair and God-given strength, destroys temples, tames wild beasts, and defeats an entire army. But when his long locks were shorn, his power faded.
But to Smith, “it’s just hair.”
Of course Smith doesn’t believe his growing talents have anything to do with his growing dreadlocks. And believe it or not, he has been debating whether he should get a haircut -- it would be his first since he started growing facial hair -- for nearly a year. He has discussed the pros and cons with some of his friends, including running back Anthony Allen, who cut off his dreadlocks last year. Admittedly, Smith has been chickening out.
“At this point, if I were to cut my hair, no one would know who I was, especially around here. I don’t know. I think when I do cut it, I’m going to do it in a charity-type way, in a way that it can benefit my foundation or something else,” Smith said, thinking out loud. He then declared. “But it’s not going to happen this season.”
Discussing a player’s hair is rarely relevant, but it is this week with the Cincinnati Bengals returning to M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since last November, when Bengals cornerback Adam Jones desperately yanked the speedy wide receiver down by his dreadlocks. Smith had a career-high 165 receiving yards on six catches, which tied a career-high. He had already scored one touchdown already before Jones went all WWE on him.
After catching a short pass while running a slant route, Smith accelerated between a pair of Bengals defenders. He split them and had a clear path to the end zone when Jones grabbed his hair. Smith seemed stunned when he got up after the tackle.
“I’ve never been grabbed by my hair,” Smith said. “I feel like he just aimed for it. You don’t see it often. As many guys that have dreads, you really don’t see it often in the league. That’s why I was kind of the mockery of the week because of that. They got me good. But I don’t know, my biggest memory? I remember winning.”
Smith doesn’t judge or begrudge Jones for the tackle, which was legal. Asked if he would tackle a guy by his hair if it was his only option, he quickly answered “no” before pausing to reconsider.
“I guess if we needed to, yeah,” Smith said.
But that tackle isn’t why he is considering a change. Honestly, he just sounds bored. Last season, the night before he exploded for three touchdowns against the flat-footed St. Louis Rams, Smith played with his hair in the mirror to see what he would look like if he reconnected with his barber. He doesn’t have a new hairstyle picked out, maybe just buzzing it short.
“So you can see my little peanut head,” said Smith, who set new Ravens rookie receiving records last year with 50 catches for 841 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns. “My helmet size would be like a small. My head is pretty small.”