There aren't many places in Green Bay where Packers cornerback Casey Hayward can go and not be recognized. Such is life in an NFL-crazy town. But not too far from Lambeau Field on Tuesday mornings, Hayward walks into a place to get away from it all.
It's not a secret society or some tucked away, exclusive club. Instead, it is the last spot one imagines a hard-hitting NFL cornerback might go on his day off – it's where Hayward gets his biweekly manicure and pedicure. Yes, that's right, one of the league's top rising cornerbacks gets pampered twice a month and it has nothing to do with vanity. It's all about the product on the field.
“I get both, I get a pedicure and a manicure. You have to take care of your feet, I get a foot massage and calves and all that stuff,” Hayward told Yahoo Sports. “You're trying to make sure your foundation is good and healthy.”
In a sport that is as physical and tough as the NFL, it would seem counter to locker room culture that a player would do something like a manicure or a pedicure, but this is a growing trend among players.
It isn't terribly uncommon for NFL players to do offbeat things in order to improve their performance. A number of players, including linemen, do yoga or take stretching classes. Spin classes are also popular parts of offseason training regimens. And some players even utilize oxygen restriction masks in an effort to enhance their cardio capacity.
And now, Hayward is a part of a growing movement, in particular those in the skill positions, who are regularly getting manicures and pedicures. He estimates that “25 percent to 30 percent” of his teammates also get them. The numbers are similar around the rest of the league as well with many other players joining in for a manicure or a pedicure and it isn't for vanity reasons but to take care of their bodies.
It's almost a given for some, especially considering the pounding their feet take on a daily basis and the way their hands can get mangled.
Hayward remembers getting the occasional manicure or pedicure while in college at Vanderbilt. Two years ago when he entered the NFL, he began to do it more diligently.
He went once with a female friend on a whim and remembers finding it relaxing. Ironically, he went that time with no intention that it would help his performance on the field but he saw results.
“She took me one day. - this was back in the day but I went. I remember sitting there thinking, 'Oh, it's not that bad.' It's real good. I don't get any nail polish or anything like that,” Hayward said.
“With all the training, all the running that we do. I've come to the realization it's important. With my hands, it makes my hands softer and when you're playing cornerback, you need soft hands to create turnovers.”
Through his NFL career he has been regularly going every two weeks for a manicure and a pedicure. He's brought teammates, including wide receiver Randall Cobb. It helps his body recover but there's also a hidden benefit that he and others can get away from football entirely for a while. It is his off day after all, so he tunes out from football and browses Twitter and Instagram while he gets pampered.
He will arrive at the salon late morning or perhaps early afternoon for what will be close to an hour-long procedure. It's a 30-minute process on the feet as they first cut his cuticles then they get “all the little stuff off the bottom of your feet.” Hayward pauses before he adds the final step where “they put pink oil on and massage your feet.”
He seems to like that part.
After that comes 20 minutes on the hands followed by a polish. The end result, he jokes, is that “My feet are pretty.”
The women who handle the mani/pedi have no idea who he is or any of his teammates who join him, so it's a nice break from being recognized and hounded for an autograph or a selfie. But more than that, he says it helps him with his craft and being a better cornerback.
“I can tell that the foundation of my feet feels good. They get so banged up, calluses and everything and get all cracked. It's good to take care of them,” Hayward said. “My hands feel softer too which is important for catching the ball. Overall, it's been great and I'm glad I do it.”
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Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer