Count the dread heads

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

At this rate, Winnipeg Blue Bombers equipment man Brad Fotty might have to start putting name bars under the numbers.

It's an unofficial stat, but the Blue and Gold appear to lead the CFL in dreadlocks. Four players have the long, flowing 'locks, and another one is just starting the process.

"That's gotta be the record," defensive back Kelly Malveaux says.

Second-year pro Gabriel Fulbright has the beginnings of dreadlocks sprouting from his skull, but he's not an official member of the club, according to Malveaux, the team's unofficial dreadlocks president.

"No, those are little worms," Malveaux says matter-of-factly.

It takes years to get a good set of dreads going, and these players have shown the patience to do it and take great pride in their hair.

They also do it for a variety of reasons, from spirituality to luck with the ladies.

Here's a look at the four Bombers whose last names are rarely seen on the back of their jerseys:

KELLY MALVEAUX

"It's just been something I wanted to do for a long time," the 30-year-old defensive back says. "I've always been a natural guy. I've never been one to put chemicals or anything like that in my hair. I was either bald or I had braids."

The braids eventually became dreads, and the California native has been sporting the look for five years now.

"I feel stronger with my hair," Malveaux says, referencing Samson. "I don't know how I'd feel without hair now."

Malveaux says his wife is his hair's caretaker, as "she won't let me go out of the house with it looking too bad."

For that reason, he believes he has the best set going.

"Oh, by far. You know it," he says. "Stevie Baggs used to give me the best competition. He would keep his pretty nice."

DAVIN BUSH

The first-year Bomber followed a similar path to Malveaux, going from braids to dreads because he didn't feel like cutting his hair three years ago.

"It's low maintenance," the former Saskatchewan Roughrider says. "I just wanted to go with a natural look, and I wasn't ready to cut my hair. So I just kept it, because I had braids before this, corn rows."

The 29-year-old says he "loves" his hair and doesn't plan to cut it anytime soon (the only way to get rid of dreadlocks is basically to shave your head). Bush also says his hair coming out the back of his helmet gives him a regal look and even confidence.

"It's kind of like a black lion," he says. "I see myself as a black lion. It's fun.

"I'm like Samson. My hair is my strength."

CHIJIOKE ONYENEGECHA

The CFL rookie cuts right to the chase when asked about his decision to go with the dreads six years ago.

"Women like that look, especially when you keep it neat and you go out and get them all fixed up," the 24-year-old says.

"I probably wouldn't get as much attention from women if I had regular hair. So I have to have that distinct look, because certain places you go there's not too many people with dreadlocks. I like to stand out and keep that look."

Onyenegecha says the pressure from football helmets are tough on dreads (they fall out a lot), but he's able to wash and condition them every day to keep them as strong as possible.

"I love them," he says. "You get attached to your hair, so it's almost impossible for me to cut it.

"It's a football fashion, too."

NATE DAVIS

The 33-year-old defensive tackle has the longest and thickest dreads of the foursome, and the reason for his look has evolved since he started growing them in February 2002 while with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"It's a spiritual thing for me," he says. "It started off as just something I always wanted to do with my hair, but as it started to grow and I read a little more about different societies and cultures that grow dreadlocks and the reasons behind why they do it, it became more of a spiritual thing for me.

"For me the hair is sort of a sign of my spirituality, not necessarily my religion."

Dreadlocks date all the way back to Biblical times, but today they cause problems for football players who can be brought down easily by having their hair pulled.

"Some people will get jealous and try to pull your hair on the field when you're running past them," Davis says. "So now I've got a new system to keep them back there and keep them out of the way."


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