Saints fans in a lather over Rob Ryan’s flowing locks
Perfectly unperfect curls unwind in a passing breeze. Thick, luxurious locks, steely with just a hint of flaxen, fan out like a shining halo.
And perfectly match his goatee.
“It’s not the kind of hair you’d expect to see on an NFL coach,” says Tina Gaspard, 41, of Metairie.
Rob Ryan, New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, has a mane that inspires envy and, Saints fans hope, fear.
It inspired Gaspard to start a Facebook page — Rob Ryan’s Hair, facebook.com/bewarethehair — to pay homage to Ryan’s ’do. She’s also the voice behind the Twitter account @RobRyansHair1.
Launched after the Saints-Cardinals game earlier this year, Gaspard’s Facebook page has taken off, counting more than 16,000 fans.
“One day I went to lunch and had maybe 200 likes,” Gaspard says. She drove 15 minutes to her parents house, where she discovered it had 600 likes. By the end of her break, it was at 800.
“It was just crazy,” she says, adding that it, like Ryan’s hair, grows after every game.
Gaspard, who admits to spending three hours a day posting funny comments and photos on the sites, says she is often called upon to answer questions about Ryan’s hair, such as the kind of shampoo the coach uses.
“I always say, ‘Quarterback tears,’” she says.
Inspired by the frenzy over Ryan’s resplendent strands, Gaspard launched a T-shirt campaign that featured a Ryan hair silhouette and the slogan “Beware the Hair.” She sold 375 shirts in four days, with half of the proceeds — $1,200 — donated to the Alzheimer’s Association Louisiana Region. She chose that charity, she says, because Ryan’s stepmother suffered from the disease, as did two of her grandparents.
“It’s been such a blessing to be able to contribute to a charity via the silliness that is Rob Ryan’s Hair in a way that I never could on my own,” she said.
A second Beware the Hair campaign this week was expected to raise an additional $150 to $200. She’s also trying to get permission from the Saints to use Ryan’s likeness and the words “Rush. Tackle. Sack. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.”
“Since it has Rob’s face on it, I don’t feel like I can run with that,” says Gaspard, who doesn’t know if Rob is aware of what his hair has been up to online.
“I don’t really think Rob does social media, so I’m not sure he knows it exists,” she said.
His son, she says, did follow the Twitter account.
The life-long Saints fan (“I have four brothers, so I didn’t have a choice.”) says she hopes that Ryan and his hair continue to prowl the sidelines in black and gold.
“I just feel like he’s such a good fit for the team and for the city. I just can’t imagine him going anywhere,” Gaspard says. “He’s very passionate and very, kind of, larger-than-life. We go big or go home, and that’s what he does.”