The NFL barber.
That is what former safety Sherrod Martin is known as by people around the league.
Martin began playing football at around 9 years old, just playing in the park. He played all the way up through middle and high school. It was in high school when the Georgia native was introduced to the art of cutting hair.
“I used to be into art growing up as a child,” Martin said. “Haircut turned into hair art basically, I started cutting my own hair, family members, friends, and next thing you know I took that talent to college.”
Martin attended Troy University, staying in the southern United States. He played safety for the Trojans.
There, Martin flourished, earning First-team All-Sun Belt honors in 2008. But for him, it wasn’t the time spent on the field, but rather the people he met along the way.
“The guys that football brings into your life, you end up being friends for a life time,” Martin said. “It’s people that you probably wouldn’t of spoke to if you had nothing in common but football that brought you all together when you live on two different sides of the world, it’s just a lifetime bond.”
Martin through college was able to do more than one thing he was passionate about, something he is grateful for. What he believed made him better off.
“[The love I have for] football and barbering is something I really can’t explain,” Martin said. “I loved to do both, nothing like doing something you love to do and I was blessed enough to do both so I mean they both gave me something different just like you get to know teammates, when you’re cutting hair, you get to know people too so both of them gave me so much.”
Football and barbering came with their mistakes for Martin. But like a missed tackle or botched haircut, it’s on to the next play.
“Life is a learning process and football and barbering are just like life,” Martin said. “In football and barbering you’re only good as your last cut just like you’re only as good as your last game, you just try to simplify and break down ‘What could I have done to make this a smoother process for me’ Nothing is gonna be easy, your technique may be bad but at the same time by being very knowledgeable about the game football or barbering, you can limit your mistakes or if you do make a mistake you can make up for it.”
Martin declared for the 2009 NFL Draft and in the second round, he was selected by the Carolina Panthers. One simple thought went through his mind.
“God is good,” Martin said. “I wasn’t the best athlete where I was from, I wasn’t the top recruited, you just keep faith and just keep working they say ‘Hard work beats talent any day’ And the cool thing about the whole process was even though I wanted to go pro, I just enjoyed it, I just loved the game, I just played and when you keep your head down, just working, just grinding, and looked up you’re reaping what you sowed.”
In his first game as professional, Martin picked off two passes starting his time in Carolina on a high note. The Troy alum knew even before the plays happened, that he was prepared for the pigskin to come his way.
“‘You stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready’ That’s the motto,” Martin said. “You trust the game plan, you trust yourself to be where you’re supposed to be, accountability, you make the plays, you leave it all out there when you walk off the field, you have no regrets regardless of the results.”
Martin missed the entire 2013 season and didn’t know if football was in the cards anymore. Jacksonville came knocking and he took his talents to the Florida pan handle. This, all the while working to become a master barber.
After a short stint with the Chicago Bears in 2015, Martin retired from the football. But he knew exactly what was next for himself.
Martin went back to Georgia and founded Superb Grooming, a barbershop in Atlanta which saw instant success.
Former players that Martin shared the field with like Julius Peppers flocked to his shop for one of the football barber’s haircuts.
“That’s just the power of the brotherhood and the relationships you build,” Martin said. “That just lets you know that football goes much deeper than the football field, sometimes it ain’t what you know, it’s who you know.
NFL players find comfort in Martin’s barber chair because of how the former Panther can relate to what they are or have experienced on the gridiron.
“Being a former player, you understand the players,” Martin said. “At the end of the day, it becomes a safe place for them, to protect the players and they come in, we talk about different things, we [do] talk about football but, we [mostly] just talk about life, entrepreneurship.”
His popularity among players made him someone current as well as up and coming players trust. Martin has collaborated with big brands like Old Spice for the NFL Draft and NFL Honors as the barber to the players.
Martin will also be the first retired player to land an endorsement deal as a master barber.
Now, when younger players sit in his barber chair, he sees it as a chance to pass on his wisdom in his life after football.
“I can share that knowledge with somebody in their prime, or some player that’s comin’ up,” Martin said. “It’s kind of like ‘each one, teach one,’ so you can have all these experiences, combine them together and help somebody.”
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