Seahawk taking Kennewick barber to Super Bowl

By Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 25, 2014 

— Kennewick barber Mark Baysinger never thought the impromptu haircut he gave to Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner last summer would lead to a Super Bowl trip.

Baysinger, 30, owns On the Mark barbershop on West Clearwater Avenue. He opened the shop about three years ago after 10 years of cutting hair in Sunnyside.

A haircut at the sports-themed shop runs $15, and rap music usually dominates the speakers. An eclectic mix of clients line up for fades, as barbers debate whatever topics come to mind.

Baysinger said he's going to New Jersey next week to cut Seahawks players' hair before they take the field against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The trip is the result of friendships he forged with Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and other players during the season.

"I feel blessed," he said recently over a plate of hot wings. "It's like a dream. It never gets old. Even if I wasn't cutting their hair, I would be stoked that (the Seahawks) are going to a Super Bowl."

Baysinger's unexpected trip to football's biggest game started with a post on Instagram.

The barber reached out to Browner on the social media site before the cornerback came to the Tri-Cities in July as part of the team's 12 Tour. He told Browner about his shop and offered to cut his hair. Browner decided to take Baysinger up on the offer.

Baysinger met Browner at The Pub in Kennewick where players were doing a meet and greet with fans, he said. They decided to go to Browner's hotel for the haircut.

"I cut him in the hotel room," Baysinger said. "I mean I'm a lifelong Seahawks fan so it was cool to cut him. I didn't really think too much of it."

About two weeks later, Baysinger got a call from Browner asking for another haircut, he said. The Seahawks had started training camp and Baysinger drove to Seattle to meet him.

When Baysinger got there, Browner told him that Thomas also wanted a haircut, Baysinger said. The barber cut Browner's hair and told him to pass his phone number to Thomas.

Thomas texted Baysinger about an hour later and asked to meet at a hotel where the players were staying, Baysinger said.

Thomas, a first-round pick in 2010 from the University of Texas, had recently cut off his signature dreadlocks and it gained national media attention.

Baysinger said although Thomas was quiet during the haircut, the two men had a lot in common and seemed to click.

"I basically told him, 'Whenever you need me to cut you, just text me and I'll be up here,' " Baysinger said. "I told him I lived like three hours away but it was nothing."

Soon, Baysinger was making the trip once a week to the Seahawks practice facility, he said. He would routinely give haircuts to Thomas and Browner. Sometimes other players would ask for cuts too.

With each haircut, Baysinger and Thomas began to learn more about each other and started growing closer, Baysinger said. Baysinger met Thomas' family and became close to his brother.

After a game against the San Francisco 49ers, Thomas invited Baysinger and his wife to dinner with other players.

Within weeks, Baysinger was staying at Thomas' home during his trips to Seattle and attending homes games on Sundays.

"It is a genuine friendship, man," said Baysinger, a father of two. "It wasn't overnight. He's a private person. He stays in his bubble. (The friendship) was organic."

"It is a genuine friendship, man," said Baysinger, a father of two. "It wasn't overnight. He's a private person. He stays in his bubble. (The friendship) was organic."

As the craze surrounding the Seahawks grew with each win, Baysinger started to establish a small clientele of players, he said.

Players started recognizing him during his trips to Seattle and asked for haircuts. His clients included defensive players Bobby Wagner, Cliff Avril and Malcolm Smith, as well as offensive players Derrick Coleman, Phil Bates, Ricardo Lockette and Russell Okung.

In just a few months, Baysinger had gone from a regular fan to befriending some of the most prominent players and working as their personal barber, he said.

Football and the Seahawks have always been a big part of Baysinger's life.

He played for Sunnyside High and his family has rooted for the Seahawks since before he was born. Before he started going to home games, Baysinger would watch every game with his dad and brother.

"If you have been through the struggle of being a Seahawks fan, then you get why this is so special," he said of their Super Bowl run. "The energy Pete (Carroll) has brought to the team is amazing. To be a small part of this and a small part of their routine is crazy."

As the regular season ended and national media started descending on Seattle for the first-round playoff game, Baysinger's phone started to ring more, he said. He was getting requests to cut players' hair for interviews and commercials.

He said he cut Coleman's hair before he filmed his Duracell commercial. Coleman is legally deaf and the commercial has since gone viral, getting more than 10 million views on YouTube.

"Nobody knew that commercial was going to be that big," Baysinger said. "He's a great guy, very loyal."

After the Seahawks beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game, Baysinger waited outside the locker room to celebrate with Thomas, he said.

Thomas' mother recently gave the Seahawks secondary who play on the defense in the backfield -- also known as the Legion of Boom -- a necklace to symbolize strength. Richard Sherman wore it at a news conference last week.

The medallion is circular and has a hole in the middle with a chain looped through it. The words "Shields of Strength" are written on it with a Bible verse.

Thomas made sure Baysinger received one too.

"It hit me. It meant a lot to me," Baysinger said. "Earl stays so humble. He always says, 'When me eats, we eat.' The same passion he plays with on the field, he brings off of it."

Baysinger got the news this week that players wanted him to cut their hair before the big game, he said. He plans to fly to New York on Thursday.

Baysinger's wife, Anh, told the Herald her husband was thrilled when he was invited to the Super Bowl.

"It's just a dream for Mark," she said. "He is just really enjoying life right now and taking it in. When we were dating, he would always say, 'Wouldn't it be cool to cut just one of the Seahawk guys?' "

Baysinger said he hasn't taken the season or his unique relationship with the players for granted.

Being able to be a part of one of the greatest seasons in franchise history has been one of the best experiences of his life, he said.

And though he will be a fan during the Super Bowl game, he said it will be business as usual beforehand.

"I'm treating it as a business trip," he said. "I'm up there to work. To be cutting hair at the Super Bowl is like the highest peak in my profession."

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