Ricky Williams's locks were dread-fully stylish and Dennis Rodman's coifs continued to captivate, but for sheer unshorn elegance no athlete in 1998 surpassed Indiana's Pita Elisara, a 6'5", 295-pound tackle from American Samoa. Elisara became a cult hero in Bloomington this fall, not just for his work on the offensive line but also for the frizzy ponytail that trailed out behind his helmet and often obscured the name on his jersey. The hirsute Hoosier gets an occasional trim but hasn't had a full-fledged cut in three years.
According to Elisara, only once this year did an opponent try to tug his massive 'do—while Elisara was blocking on a field goal attempt against Cincinnati. (No penalty was called.) Otherwise, he says, "everybody's cool with it." Even his parents don't mind his long hair, Elisara says, "as long as I'm away from home."