In 2001, the National Football League created a new rule banning do-rags. This new ruled raised controversy. Do –rags, bandannas and stocking caps are no longer allowed under football helmets. NFL players had previously been allowed to wear solid color do-rags underneath their helmets in a color that matched their team uniforms. The new rule banned do-rags all together, but allowed skull caps in the teams color with the team’s logo located on it. Many African American players wore do-rags in order to prevent the helmet from rubbing against their hair which causes hair loss. African Americans typically use a lot of product in their hair and the friction was causing some players to lose their hair or for the helmet to slide uncomfortably.
Because most of the players affected by this ruling are African American, many feel this dress code is directed at African American players. The NFL stated that two of the voting members that voted in favor of the do- rag ban are African American. The NFL argued that skullcaps would be able to prevent this hair loss just as well as do-rags. The NFL also argued that this new rule was simply a change in uniform.
The NFL employs professional football players, so the players are supposed to listen to their employers and follow the dress code. They NFL officials compared this to a business that insists its employees wear suits. If the employee does not like to wear suits, they are welcomed to find another job.
There is the thought that the NFL is trying to change its image of employing “thugs”. Do- rags and stocking caps are often associated with gangs. Many believe that this is the reason for the NFL banning them. The NFL has been trying to have a more professional image and there are those that think this is the motivating factor.
The NFL has said that the players could be exempted from this ruling for a medical need. For example, Ray Lewis from the Baltimore Ravens has a known scalp condition and his doctor produced such proof of need.
As the article below asks, “Is banning do-rags a culturally biased move?” Should NFL players be allowed to wear do-rags, or do they symbolize something other than what the NFL stands for? Does wearing a do-rag promote or encourage gang related behavior? These are all questions that this ban has raised.