FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A barber Juston Burris is not.
But thanks to the rookie cornerback’s ball-hawking skills, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is walking around with a buzz cut.
The Jets quarterback made headlines Wednesday after arriving at practice without his messy mop of hair. But, as a source told Newsday that afternoon, the close-cropped hairdo wasn’t Fitzpatrick’s idea. It was his penance for losing a team-issued bet.
According to Burris, the wager was the brainchild of safety Rontez Miles. And it was Burris who was given the honor of shaving Fitzpatrick’s head in front of the entire team.
During their pre-practice stretching period on Tuesday, a couple of veterans presented a wager for their scruffy quarterback: The next defensive player to pick off Fitzpatrick could shave his unruly hair. Fitzpatrick accepted the terms of the bet. But no one — least of all him — expected his tresses to be trimmed by a rookie.
Burris’ airtight coverage on a deep ball thrown to Brandon Marshall on Tuesday resulted in the INT. “That’s what they call me around here, ‘The Rook,’ ” the fourth-round pick told Newsday and The Associated Press on Thursday, his 23rd bithday. “He made a bet and I picked him off and I was able to cut his hair . . . I just so happened to get it. I was the one to do it.”
And as soon as Burris hauled in the pick, he ran straight over to Miles. “We talked about it, we laughed about it,” Burris said. “I honestly didn’t think it was really going to happen. But they called me up in the team meeting and said I could do it.”
In front of everyone, the rookie went to work on sculpting Fitzpatrick’s new ’do, but things didn’t go according to plan. Asked to rate his hairdressing skills, Burris shook his head.
“Terrible. It was terrible,” he said. “Bad. He had to go back over. He had do his own thing. I’m not good with clippers.”
Fitzpatrick, however, doesn’t mind his new buzz cut. During an interview on WFAN on Thursday morning, he confirmed that Burris was the culprit, but he said his mini-’fro was “stupid” and needed to be cut anyway.
Parting with his wild mane was the easy part. Accepting that it was Burris who was responsible? That was tough.
“I threw it to a rookie, too, which was awful, like a double whammy,” Fitzpatrick said in the radio interview. “But it was one of those things. It got picked off, and I actually was kind of smiling about it, because I finally got to cut that thing off the top of my head.”