Written by Marshall Kramsky for WCPO
One of the Bengals’ biggest story lines this off-season is quarterback Joe Burrow’s new hairdo.
“I needed something new, I’ve had the same haircut for a while. I decided to change it up, we will see how it goes,” Burrow said.
Burrow’s barber, Darnell Bonner, said it was all Burrow’s idea.
“I cut according to his vision,” said Bonner, who owns “Nell’s Barbershop” in Florence, Kentucky.
Burrow is not the only Bengals player with a new cut.
On March 11, defensive tackle B.J. Hill tweeted out, “if Germaine Pratt sign back, I’ll go bald.” Just three days later, Pratt signed a three-year contract worth $20.25 million.
“He (Hill) didn’t tell me exactly when I need to cut his hair, but it’s something that needs to happen soon,” Pratt said in a press conference moments after signing his extension.
Fast forward two months, Hill had his head shaved, but not by Pratt.
“They asked me who I wanted to cut the hair, they said ‘Germaine?’ I was like ‘ugh no, we can get Darnell,’” Hill said.
“The Bengals organization actually called me about that one, it wasn’t B.J. that called me for it… I honestly didn’t think it was a legitimate call at first,” Bonner said.
The only surprise in this situation is that Darnell was surprised. He shapes up some of the biggest names in Cincinnati.
“To name a few, we’ve got (Joe) Burrow, (Tyler) Boyd, (Logan) Wilson, (Hakeem) Adeniji, (Mike) Hilton,” Bonner said.
Bonner used to work at a local spa. In 2018, he left to open up Nell’s Barbershop. A coworker from the spa referred former Bengals wide receiver Cody Core.
“It blew up from there,” Bonner said.
Through word of mouth and Instagram, Bonner got a major bump when posting that he cut Joe Burrow’s hair.
“We had every little kid, a couple adults, too, but every little kid asking for the Joe Burrow fade,” Bonner said.
Building a barbershop for the stars started in middle school.
“I had a white mom, a white stepfather. I’d get around to my friends when I’d get the ‘white cut’ (so I) had to learn how to cut my own hair. I got a little attention off of it,” Bonner said.
A great barber’s responsibility is more than just a good haircut. Bonner emphasized it’s about getting to know the people in the chair. People like Reds Ace Hunter Greene.
“Hunter did invite me on the field, that was the first time I got step on the Great American Ball Park,” Bonner said.
Bonner has created relationships with many celebrities by following a simple rule.
“Don’t get too caught up in the sports and the lifestyle, just kind of treat them as a normal human being and I think they really do respect that,” Bonner said.
He only talks sports as an escape, but it does come up.
“If you don’t have a LeBron (James) vs. (Michael) Jordan debate, you’re in the wrong shop.”
After all, the barbershop is supposed to be a safe space to relax, and leave fresh new cut.