Phil Andruss is 'The Man in the Mohawk'
You need your eyesight checked if can't spot the Lynnwood man at Seattle sporting events. He's the 6-foot-5, screaming Super Fan with the huge blue hair spikes. 'I just want to let people know you can go all out for any sport you want.'
Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Mr. Mohawk, Phil Andruss, looks into a mirror in the living room of his Lynnwood home to check his mohawk, created with his motherís help. After his hair is spiked, Andruss applies green and blue face paint before coloring his mohawk blue. Once itís all done, Andruss rides the bus into Seattle to whatever sporting event heís attending. Here, heís preparing for a Sounders game.
Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald
Mr. Mohawk, aka Phil Andruss of Lynnwood, cheers at a recent Sounders FC game.
"I hated it," he said. "My hair always poofed. I looked like a fuzzy little duck, so I never liked it. I always had short hair."
Yet here Andruss is in his parents' Lynnwood home, sitting in a chair for 45 minutes while his mother, Gwen -- clearly a patient woman -- turns his long hair into five 12½-inch blue spikes for the night's Sounders FC game.
If you're a fan of Seattle teams, odds are you've seen Andruss before. Going back to the Seahawks' 2005 playoff run, Andruss, better known now as Mr. Mohawk, has made a habit out of showing up at sporting events with his hair in spikes or a traditional Mohawk.
The man who once thought his hair made him look like a duck now has one of the most famous heads of hair in the Seattle area.
Andruss, 26, wasn't always like this. Sure he liked sports as a kid, but in a fiscally conservative family, going to games was a rarity. Andruss says his father, Neil, only took him to three games as a child: one Sonics game against the Michael Jordan-led Bulls, and two Mariner's games.
As he got older and started working, Andruss started going to more and more games on his own money. Then 2005 came and it all started to escalate. Andruss, who had first shaved a Mohawk as an eighth grader just for fun, decided to do the same for the Seahawks playoff run. He vowed during those playoffs not to ditch the look until the Seahawks won a Super Bowl. Of course Seattle ended up losing to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL, so the hair was there to stay.
Andruss wasn't able to make good on his promise, however. Too many dye jobs eventually caused his hair to start falling out in 2007. So off it went. But not long after, he started regrowing his hair and now has more than a foot of it to style and color for various sporting events.
He has transformed from a kid who almost never attended sporting events to a Seahawks and Sounders FC season ticket holder, and he goes to at least two Mariners games a week. In addition to sporting his Mohawk at events, Andruss frequently has his face painted, too. He also makes a few road trips per year -- he saw sporting events in nine states last year -- and estimates he spends upwards of one third of his income on sports when you factor in tickets, travel, hair products, food and drink.
"Maybe this is just my way of making up for a low-key 18 years," said Andruss, whose picture has shown up in the likes of Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and USA Today.
Not that Andruss' first 18 years were entire low-key. If Andruss is anything -- besides easy to spot -- he's candid. Want to talk about his legal problem from early in life when he dealt with misdemeanor weapons charges and later a theft charge? He'll tell you about it. Want to know about his brief stint at Meadowdale High that ended with him getting kicked out before homecoming his freshman year? He'll talk about the fight that ended his high school career with 1.5 credits.
"I was a bad kid," he said. "Looking back on it now, I looked up to my oldest brother too much, so when he went to the military right before I went to high school, I started looking up to other friends that got me into bad stuff. Stealing, partying too much, stuff like that. I didn't care, I thought I was the great American 15-year-old bad ass, and school just took a back burner."
Andruss never did go back to school, but has worked steadily, and now has a good-paying union job at a warehouse in Everett. He has been married and divorced, and he and his ex-wife share custody of a son and daughter.
Andruss' hours allow him to spend time at home with son Marcus, 5, and daughter Mikelle, 4. During an afternoon at home getting ready for a game, Andruss transitions effortlessly from of a typical 26-year-old -- using coarse language, giving friends a hard time on the phone -- to a gentile father tending to a son and special needs daughter.
He's hardly tame -- check out the south end of Qwest Field at a Sounders game for evidence -- but Andruss has matured a bit since becoming a father.
"I was done getting in trouble when I had a kid," he said. "I haven't been in any trouble since that."
After his mom has finished with the hair and the face paint is done, Andruss has to pile into a car -- and this is a sight to be seen in and of itself. At 6-foot-5, the additional foot of hair means Andruss can't sit in a car. He instead lies face down in the fully-reclined passenger seat for a ride to the park and ride where he catches a bus to the game.
That bus ride and subsequent walk to the stadium are always filled with stares and questions. One group of fans asks Andruss what he puts in his hair to make it stand up, and he happily plugs the Got 2B Glued freeze spray he spends hundreds of dollars on each year.
At games or at tailgate events before, Andruss is constantly offered food, drinks, seat upgrades and plenty of other freebies. But even though the attention is fun at times, that's not the reason for all of this.
"If you think I'm rocking a mullet 300 days a year to get on TV, well, I've already been on TV," he said. "If that's all it was, I'd have gotten rid of it by now."
So why go through all of this?
"People like it, there are a lot of fans that need somebody to do it first," he said. "I've had a lot of people come up to me and say they paint their face because they saw me do it, too. ... I just want to let people know you can go all out for any sport you want."
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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