Published: Nov. 20, 2017 at 01:58 p.m.

Best NFL Hair of the ‘80s and ‘90s

If the 1970s were modern football’s genesis, then the 1980s and 1990s were when the sport grew into the juggernaut it is today. The NFL’s growth coincided with a time of unchecked optimism for the culture at large, and you can see this reflected in the era’s fashion -- particularly the hairstyles.

Mullets. Mohawks. Jheri Curls. Flat Tops. None of these are practical ways to keep your hair; they each require a considerable amount of effort to grow and maintain, so the only reason you’d do such a thing is if you thought that the aesthetic value was worth the daily labor. In other words, these dudes were all convinced they looked gooooood.

So let’s take a moment to look back upon these throwback hairstyles to gawk at the boldness and confidence on display. It was a different time.

14 Photos Total

  • Blond mohawk. Multiple earrings. In this photo, "The Boz" looks like he's going to beat up either The Karate Kid or Apollo Creed, so it's no surprise the Seahawks linebacker later found success as an actor, appearing in <i>Three Kings</i> and <i>The Longest Yard</i> remake, among others. Bosworth's football career was a brief bloom, but his big, trash-talking personality made him one of the most memorable NFL players in the '80s. 14

    Susan Ragan/Associated Press

    Brian Bosworth, 1987

    Blond mohawk. Multiple earrings. In this photo, "The Boz" looks like he's going to beat up either The Karate Kid or Apollo Creed, so it's no surprise the Seahawks linebacker later found success as an actor, appearing in Three Kings and The Longest Yard remake, among others. Bosworth's football career was a brief bloom, but his big, trash-talking personality made him one of the most memorable NFL players in the '80s.

  • Speaking of big personalities, are there any bigger than Neon Deion? Even before being drafted, Deion had more confidence in his abilities than any of us have ever had in our entire lives. I know <i>I</i> wouldn't be able to pull off the gold chains/sunglasses/Jheri curl/track suit look. 13

    David Banks/Associated Press

    Deion Sanders, 1989

    Speaking of big personalities, are there any bigger than Neon Deion? Even before being drafted, Deion had more confidence in his abilities than any of us have ever had in our entire lives. I know I wouldn't be able to pull off the gold chains/sunglasses/Jheri curl/track suit look.

  • Sanders is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his unparalleled athletic ability as a cornerback (not to mention his dual-sport prowess), but he's also in my Pro Football Hair Hall of Fame for this Jheri curl + mustache and goatee combo. 12

    Peter Read Miller/Associated Press

    Deion Sanders, 1989

    Sanders is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his unparalleled athletic ability as a cornerback (not to mention his dual-sport prowess), but he's also in my Pro Football Hair Hall of Fame for this Jheri curl + mustache and goatee combo.

  • This is probably the happiest moment in Buffalo Bills history. Here, Jim Kelly and Mitch Frerotte are goofing around in practice before Super Bowl XXV, the first of four consecutive Super Bowl losses for the Bills. Look how confident these guys are! They're CONVINCED they're going to beat the Giants as handedly as they beat the Raiders in the AFC Championship Game -- and that their hair looks good. Oh, you sweet summer children. 11

    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Jim Kelly and lineman Mitch Frerotte, 1991

    This is probably the happiest moment in Buffalo Bills history. Here, Jim Kelly and Mitch Frerotte are goofing around in practice before Super Bowl XXV, the first of four consecutive Super Bowl losses for the Bills. Look how confident these guys are! They're CONVINCED they're going to beat the Giants as handedly as they beat the Raiders in the AFC Championship Game -- and that their hair looks good. Oh, you sweet summer children.

  • One of the best running backs of all time. One of the best rookie photos of all time. I especially appreciate that this looks very much like <a href="http://i.imgur.com/wAq17iz.jpg" target="_blank">a Prince album cover.</a> 10

    National Football League

    Eric Dickerson, 1983

    One of the best running backs of all time. One of the best rookie photos of all time. I especially appreciate that this looks very much like a Prince album cover.

  • In his second NFL season, Dickerson broke the single season rushing record, which still stands today. That is incredibly impressive; even moreso considering he did it looking like Lionel Richie. 9

    Mark Avery/Associated Press

    Eric Dickerson, 1984

    In his second NFL season, Dickerson broke the single season rushing record, which still stands today. That is incredibly impressive; even moreso considering he did it looking like Lionel Richie.

  • The bad boy Bears QB was pure '80s swagger, especially during his Super Bowl season, and the whole team carried that confidence. How else can you explain releasing <a href="https://vimeo.com/135203185" target="_blank">The Super Bowl Shuffle</a> before the playoffs even started? 8

    Al Messerschmidt/Associated Press

    Jim McMahon, 1986

    The bad boy Bears QB was pure '80s swagger, especially during his Super Bowl season, and the whole team carried that confidence. How else can you explain releasing The Super Bowl Shuffle before the playoffs even started?

  • Later on, McMahon would shuffle around a number of other clubs for the second half of his career. His longest stint was his two years with the Philadelphia Eagles -- in this photo, he's in his first mini-camp with the team, wearing a t-shirt as aggressive as his mullet. 7

    George Widman/Associated Press

    Jim McMahon, 1990

    Later on, McMahon would shuffle around a number of other clubs for the second half of his career. His longest stint was his two years with the Philadelphia Eagles -- in this photo, he's in his first mini-camp with the team, wearing a t-shirt as aggressive as his mullet.

  • One of the mullet's best (only?) friends -- the peach-fuzz 'stache. Don Majkowski wore it well in his rookie year, when he earned his nickname "Majik Man" and led the NFL in passing yards. 6

    Vernon Biever/Associated Press

    Don Majkowski, 1987

    One of the mullet's best (only?) friends -- the peach-fuzz 'stache. Don Majkowski wore it well in his rookie year, when he earned his nickname "Majik Man" and led the NFL in passing yards.

  • The gloriously mulleted QB may be best known to younger Packers fans as the predecessor to Brett Favre, but the Majik Man was good in his own right; he's the Packers' fifth-ranked passer of all-time. 5

    Four Seam Images/Associated Press

    Don Majkowski, 1990

    The gloriously mulleted QB may be best known to younger Packers fans as the predecessor to Brett Favre, but the Majik Man was good in his own right; he's the Packers' fifth-ranked passer of all-time.

  • Kevin Greene had such perfect '90s hair that if someone told you he was the bassist for Temple of the Dog, you'd believe it. The Hall of Fame linebacker was an impact player for the L.A. Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Carolina Panthers, and today he coaches linebackers for the Jets. 4

    National Football League

    Kevin Greene, 1996

    Kevin Greene had such perfect '90s hair that if someone told you he was the bassist for Temple of the Dog, you'd believe it. The Hall of Fame linebacker was an impact player for the L.A. Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Carolina Panthers, and today he coaches linebackers for the Jets.

  • Before he was slinging passes to Randy Moss in Minnesota, Randall Cunningham spent the majority of his career with the Eagles, sporting one of the best flat tops in NFL history. 3

    David Durochik/Associated Press

    Randall Cunningham, 1990

    Before he was slinging passes to Randy Moss in Minnesota, Randall Cunningham spent the majority of his career with the Eagles, sporting one of the best flat tops in NFL history.

  • Dan Marino has always kept a pretty consistent, conservative appearance, but the wildest 'do he ever rocked was in 1989 with this bushy top look. 2

    Four Seam Images/Associated Press

    Dan Marino, 1989

    Dan Marino has always kept a pretty consistent, conservative appearance, but the wildest 'do he ever rocked was in 1989 with this bushy top look.

  • "Sweetness" may have been the best running back in NFL history, but his hair also deserves a shout-out for somehow looking both very '80s and very intimidating at the same time. 1

    Al Messerschmidt/Associated Press

    Walter Payton, 1983

    "Sweetness" may have been the best running back in NFL history, but his hair also deserves a shout-out for somehow looking both very '80s and very intimidating at the same time.

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