‘He’s a Football God ... and a Style God’
Along the main drag of Rising Sun Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia, in a brick-building neighborhood lined with pizza restaurants, convenience stores and no less than four barbershops, DeMarco’s Hair Artistry has stayed in business by keeping up with the people (walk-in Tuesdays) and the times. Countless men have sat in the chairs here and left with perfect shape-ups, Afros, mohawks, fauxhawks, Allen Iverson-style cornrows, and even a Dennis Rodman-esque dye jobs. The sole proprietor, Hassan DeMarco, has seen it all. But he never could have anticipated what happened two years ago when a customer strode across the black-and-white tile floor and asked, “Can you give me The Odell Beckham?”
“The first request came right after The Catch,” says DeMarco, referring to Beckham’s one-handed touchdown grab against the Giants on Nov. 23, 2014. “A few trickled in after that. Now I probably have 15 or 20 clients who have asked for it. It’s the hottest hairstyle since [Iverson’s] braids.
“And I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but one of the guys who has asked for it is actually an employee of the Eagles.”
Style, apparently, trumps allegiance.
Entering his third NFL season, Odell Beckham Jr. has attained iconic status. On the field, his 2,744 receiving yards surpassed Randy Moss’s record for the most through the first two seasons of a career. Off the field, the Giants wideout had a cameo role on CBS’ Code Black, a guest stay at Drake’s mansion, and a front-row seat with Vogue editor Anna Wintour at New York’s fashion week. His signature hairstyle—a burst-and-fade, with the longer top dyed blonde—has helped him become a shampoo marketer’s dream.
“He’s consistent, he hasn’t changed his hair much, and he’s wearing it loud and proud,” says Oggie Kapetanovic, the marketing director for Head & Shoulders, which made Beckham the face of their product last season after pitchman Troy Polamalu retired. “When we insured Troy’s hair for $1 million [as a publicity stunt], we thought we reached the pinnacle of what we could get as a brand from a buzz standpoint, but this has been a whole different level.”
From Honolulu to Tampa, The MMQB found hairdressers who are giving the cut. Level 1 Hair Studio in San Diego averages three to five Odell cuts per month. “The kids love it because it’s different,” says Rae Emerson, owner of Posterity Style in Greensboro, N.C., who gives about three per month. Defensive lineman Darnell Dockett’s 9-year-old son, Dillon, has The Odell. So do the two sons of retired Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. Celtics players Marcus Smart and Jared Sullinger have donned similar hairdos. Beckham’s cousin, Terron, a running back who attended the Jets’ rookie camp, has the same cut but with a blue top.
Hairdressers unanimously say that the cut trends younger, popular among teens and men in their mid-20s. April Norton of East Chicago has two sons and three nephews, ages 7 to 17, who have all asked for the cut. “They just love his swag,” she says of Beckham. The MMQB found high school football players in 10 states with the cut, plus 13-year-old Pop Warner player Brendan Jones from Cleveland, whose mother ordered hair dye on Amazon. Akrum Tzul, 20, a former high school cornerback in Chicago, has been dying his hair since the Wiz Khalifa patch two years ago, but decided to try The Odell because, he says, “I think he's just a stylish guy and that’s cool.”
Latoya Dobbie-Furtado, a hairstylist in Queens, New York, fields dozens of inquiries each week about how to replicate the style. “It’s not the haircut that’s the problem,” she says. “It’s how to achieve the perfect color without bleeding so it doesn’t affect the texture.” Dobbie-Furtado, who recommends seeing a professional for the 45-minute cut, is in awe of its popularity. “Right now, all girls want the Kardashian braids,” she says. “And guys want The Odell.”
Imagine the looks that Beckham’s actual stunt double gets when he walks the streets of New York City. “People go crazy when they think I’m actually Odell,” says 23-year-old Jayquan Booker. “And they love Odell. They tell me they love him as a player, and then the second thing they say is they love his style.”
“It’s always flattering when people, especially kids, want to copy your style,” Beckham said after a game last December. “For me, I just like the look.”
Beckham, of course, didn’t create it. He copied former LSU teammate Tyrann Mathieu and just happened to make it famous. “I dyed my hair back while I was at LSU,” Mathieu said in January. “My sister said I should do it because it would make me look cooler. I think she thought I would look like Chris Brown.”
Head & Shoulders sought to reach a younger audience by partnering with Beckham, who has 4.4 million Instagram followers and benefits from constantly being in the New York media spotlight. “It’s not easy to find someone who has created so much influence in such a short period of time,” Kapetanovic says. “But Odell’s interest in other areas—he’s showing up at the Met Gala, which is typically an event you expect for high-fashion types—creates a side you don’t see so much with professional athletes. He has such a wide audience, any demographic you can imagine, they’re following Odell.”
Especially those back in Baton Rouge. Jamel Bowser, the 33-year-old owner of Dorm Room Kutz near the LSU campus, has at least 15 regulars who ask for The Odell.
“Odell is to LSU the same thing that Peyton Manning is to Tennessee,” Bowser says. “You don't want to compare him to the man himself, but he’s a football god around here. And a style god, too.”
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