Aside from his football prowess and MVP stature, Patrick Mahomes has gained notoriety for his hair on and off the field.
PEOPLE exclusively unveils the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback’s new campaign with Head & Shoulders, in which he costars with longtime hair icon and retired NFL star, Troy Polamalu.
Mahomes, 23, and Polamalu, 38, who both arguably boast two of the most googled looks in their sport, let their hair down (figuratively and literally) to open up to PEOPLE about how hair and self-care can be lateral passes in conveying the importance of identity and confidence.
“Everyone has their own style. You see it with the uniforms, you see it with how guys go about their business, showing up at games and being on the field. They want to be unique,” says Mahomes, who first started wearing his hair in a mohawk in college.
“It wasn’t something I wasn’t going for, but once it grew out, everybody seemed to like it and it kind of became a thing,” he recalls. “Now it’s a thing in the NFL and it’s part of who I am.” Polamalu, on the other hand, was inspired to let his locks grow when he met his wife Theodora in the early 2000s — when Mahomes was only a child — after admiring the “greatest warriors throughout history who’d always had long hair.”
Indeed, both men can also classify themselves as inspiring warriors. “It’s really cool any time you see someone, especially little kids, who are trying to be like you in any way, and know that you’re an inspiration to them,” Mahomes says of the influence his hair has reached. “It just kind of shows that you have a platform that you can go out in the community and show these kids what it’s like to be a good human being, not just a great football player.” While Mahomes is leading by example on the field, Polamalu is more so in his own home.
“I tell my children they have to grow their hair out until they leave. It also teaches you discipline, to slow down and to take care of yourself,” the father of two boys says. “If you have dirty, stinky hair, you don’t take care of your body. If you can really take good care of your hair that means you really know how to take care of yourself.”
Outside of being a role model to his kids, Polamalu names his Head & Shoulders costar Mahomes as the league’s leading hair hero.
“Find somebody that your children can really look up to: Patrick is that,” the future Pro Football Hall of Famer says. “I’d never have seen him play. I know that he’s the league MVP. I look at him like, ‘This man is special’ and he is something worth looking up because he’s a good person [and has] great qualities that parents need to encourage their children to look up to.”