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 from 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.

Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara said teams wanted him to change his appearance before he was drafted last year. (AP)
Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara said teams wanted him to change his appearance before he was drafted last year. (AP)

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.

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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