Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MILLION DOLLAR MANE


When Lloyd's of London refused to insure Bobby Orr's knee in the mid-1970s, I can recall thinking how odd it was that someone would try to insure a body part. The Boston Bruins had a lot riding on that knee, but Lloyd's wanted no part of a wonky joint that had been surgically repaired five times. Present-day two-time NFL All Pro Troy Polamalu has never suffered a serious injury to his hair, which Lloyd's has insured for one million dollars at the request of Head and Shoulders - the shampoo brand endorsed by Polamalu in a series of advertisements focusing on the football star's flowing, black curls, which cascade nearly three feet down his back and give the impression that Diana Ross is playing strong safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's not clear what sort of eventualities are covered in the insurance policy, although the risks to Polamalu's hair are obvious and - in at least one case - documented. Kansas City's Larry Johnson grabbed a fistful of Polamalu's hair and threw him to the ground during an interception return in 2006, apparently causing some root damage but no serious long term effects. Being tackled by the hair is only the most obvious threat. There are also more subtle dangers, including sideline space heaters with the potential to send Polamalu's hair up like so much dry kindling on a cold Sunday in December, and the ever-present risk of getting his hair caught in the door of the team bus and being dragged halfway back to Pittsburgh while his teammates are suiting up in Cincinnati. Most ominously, there is baldness - an act of God presumably not covered under the insurance policy.

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