ALLEN PARK, Mich. — It started for no real reason, just a defensive end wanting to grow his hair out because he was in college and, well, why not. Somewhere along the way from his sophomore year at Eastern Michigan to his rookie year with the Detroit Lions, though, Pat O’Connor had a thought.
The defensive end wanted to do something else with his hair — something positive for others.
That’s why at the end of this season, he is planning to cut off all of his hair and donate it to a charity — he doesn’t know which one yet — that makes wigs for cancer patients.
“After it got really long, you just got to the point where you just don’t want to cut it and just waste it,” O’Connor said. “You can give it to a good cause and might as well just do that.”
O’Connor said he probably could cut his hair now and donate it — it’s past his shoulders, over the top of his back in the rear and down past his shoulders in front of his face — but he wants to wait. His plan is to grow the hair out every year and cut it at the end.
It’ll be a renewal of the year for O’Connor — and the start of growing his hair out again to make another wig for someone battling cancer. The idea came to him because of a former Eastern Michigan defensive lineman, Luke Maclean. O’Connor said Maclean grew his hair out and donated it to Locks of Love. Already on the way to making his locks long and flowing, O’Connor decided that he would do the same. O’Connor said he’ll decide which organization to go through once it gets closer to when he’ll cut his hair off.
O’Connor, whom the Lions drafted in the seventh round, said he hasn’t told many people about his plan, other than his girlfriend, whom O’Connor said doesn’t want him to cut it because she “loves my hair.”
And growing his hair long goes for not only his head but also his face. O’Connor said that after having to shave every day in high school, he let his facial hair go. He estimated “I haven’t seen my chin in probably like five years,” but his current beard length is the longest it has been.
He can’t donate the beard, so he’ll keep that. But the hair on his head, with it going to a good cause, is eventually going to go.
“Don’t want to waste the hair,” O’Connor said. “You can give it to somebody who is struggling in life and battling cancer, you know. Give them a wig.”