Saints' Alvin Kamara wonders if his appearance led to him dropping in draft

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara had a fantastic rookie season, with 1,554 yards fro scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns. He was the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year.

But he was a third-round draft pick, and in a new profile, Kamara wonders if his appearance hurt his draft stock.

Dreads and nose ring

As we’ve repeatedly seen, many NFL front-office executives and coaches are, shall we say, behind the times.

They only care about things they should care about – like players credibly accused of sexual assault or domestic abuse – when they’ve been publicly shamed for doing so, and apparently still care about things that don’t matter one bit.

Take Kamara as an example.

Bleacher Report’s Master Tesfatsion got Kamara, who keeps his circle small and is wary of just about everyone he meets, to warm up to him over a few days, during which Tesfatsion followed Kamara from his native Atlanta to the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area, where Kamara trained this offseason.

During one of their two visits together to a Smoothie King near the physical therapy facility Kamara uses, the 23-year-old wonders if he could have been drafted higher than 67th overall if he’d bent to some teams’ suggestions that he alter his appearance, getting rid of his deadlocks and nose ring.

Writes Tesfatsion:

“As he sips on his strawberry Hulk, Kamara wonders if he would’ve gone higher in the draft had he changed his appearance. Selected as the fifth running back off the board—behind Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon, who was captured on video punching a woman in the head in 2014—Kamara says there were NFL scouts and executives during the draft process who told him to cut his hair and take his nose ring out, including one NFL executive explaining how a team’s head coach wouldn’t approve of his look.

“‘I might have [gone higher],’ Kamara says. ‘But if I wasn’t myself, I wouldn’t have been as successful this year.'”

Individuality still seen as negative

As Tesfatsion noted, the surveillance video showing Mixon punching a woman didn’t hurt his draft status much – he was selected 48th overall by Cincinnati. (Kamara does have an arrest on his record, for driving without a license and not wearing a seatbelt, which came in 2014.)

But according to Kamara some teams were turned off by his shoulder-length dreads and nose ring.

Of course, Kamara’s light load at Tennessee may have played a role, but it is ridiculous that even one team would have mentioned to Kamara that his hair and a pierced nose would impact his attractiveness as a prospect.

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Alvin Kamara through the years
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Alvin Kamara through the years
KNOXVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 28: Alvin Kamara #6 of the Tennessee Volunteers gains yardage against the Vanderbilt Commodores in a game at Neyland Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Murphy-Racey/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 1: Alvin Kamara #6 of the Tennessee Volunteers celebrates after the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 02: Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara at the podium during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 2, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 03: Running back Alvin Kamara of Tennessee in action during day three of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 3, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 15: Alvin Kamara #6 of the Tennessee Volunteers reacts after rushing for a touchdown against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Neyland Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
METAIRIE, LA - AUGUST 23: New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) works out during Training Camp on August 23, 2017, at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center in Metairie, LA.(Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 11: New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs the ball out of the end zone during a NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints on September 11, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. The Vikings defeated the Saints 29-19.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 29: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints rushes the ball against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 29, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints stretches before the start of NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on November 12, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 19: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints holds up AirHead candies after his team defeated the Washington Redskins during a NFL game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 04: Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints reacts during the first half of a game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Golden State Warriors at the Smoothie King Center on December 4, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 17: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints walks off the field after playing the New York Jets at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 17: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the New York Jets at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints, Marshon Lattimore #23 and Michael Thomas #13 celebrate after a game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 31: New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs left during the second half of an NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 31, 2017, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. The Bucs defeated the Saints 31-24. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints stands on the sideling during the second half of the NFC Wild Card playoff game Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 02: Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints attends SiriusXM at Super Bowl LII Radio Row at the Mall of America on February 2, 2018 in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 03: NFL Player Alvin Kamara attends the NFL Honors at University of Minnesota on February 3, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - APRIL 21: Former Tennessee Volunteers running back Alvin Kamara attending the Tennessee spring game on April 21, 2018, at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
METAIRIE, LA. - JULY 28: New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) talks to the players before New Orleans Saints training camp practice on July 28, 2018 at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 18: Alvin Kamara performs onstage at The 2018 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Reaction to Miracle in Minnesota

The common thread throughout this story, and really any story about Kamara, is that he’s his own man. That includes his reaction to the surprising Saints’ loss to Minneapolis in the NFC Divisional round.

New Orleans was just seconds away from the conference championship, up 24-23, having come back from a 17-point halftime hole, when Stefon Diggs scored a 61-yard touchdown from Case Keenum as time ran out.

“It’s a certain point where you (expletive) just do everything could do, and (expletive) still don’t go your way,” Kamara says. “That’s how I felt about that game. I felt like we did everything. We came all the way back, and then (expletive) just happened like that. That’s like some one-in-a-million-type (expletive).

“I couldn’t even be mad. I was mad, of course, but it was like how does that even (expletive) happen? That’s not even real. It’s almost not realistic, like what the (expletive)?”

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