Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr. figures he has grown his hair to shoulder length three or four times in his life.
When the impulse hit over the summer to cut it, Helu decided to do something worthwhile. His wife, former Nebraska volleyball standout Danielle Mancuso, whose hair was even longer, wanted to join him.
So they found a program operated by the hair-care company Pantene that funnels donations of long human hair to a company that makes wigs for cancer patients and survivors. With the arrival of their first child this summer, it took the couple midway through the NFL season to follow through. Helu donated an 11-inch ponytail of hair; his wife’s was 16 inches.
On Tuesday, Helu unveiled his newly shorn look at Redskins Park, where players gathered for a mandatory conditioning session before taking off for their bye week.
“A sense of fulfillment,” Helu said, asked how he felt. “I wanted to play the season without hair coming out of my helmet. So I did for half of it, at least.”
Like many Redskins, Helu said he welcomed the bye nine games into the season, although it was “bittersweet,” he said, coming with the team 3-6 on the heels of a 29-26 loss at Minnesota.
The game marked the return of quarterback Robert Griffin III after missing seven weeks to a dislocated left ankle. On Washington’s opening drive, Griffin, under pressure on third and seven, scrambled out of the pocket and flicked a short pass to Helu, who stretched the completion for 24 yards. The drive sputtered on the first of Griffin’s five sacks, but place kicker Kai Forbath salvaged it with a 36-yard field goal.
“I’ve got to protect better for him; that’s why he got in that situation,” Helu said of Griffin, who was a perfect 5 of 5 on the drive. “I just yelled out his name; he got his eyes on me. It was just one of those spontaneous plays where he got out of the pocket. He has really great legs running the ball.”
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