PISCATAWAY, NJ - Former Rutgers wide receiver Tim Wright has returned to the university with plans to open a barbershop less than 3 miles from where he once played.
He is the newest tenant of The Plaza at Rutgers on the Livingston Campus, where The Wright Cut will open this fall.
Wright, a member of the New England Patriots that won the Super Bowl in February 2015, is now a tight end with the Detroit Lions.
He visited the shop last month to go over the interior design with his contractors and collect his key from university officials. The barbershop will have eight barbers and will be located between kite+key, the Rutgers Tech Store, and Qdoba Mexican Eats at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
The grand opening for The Wright Cut is scheduled for Sept. 3, a few days before the start of classes and a week before the NFL season kicks off. On special occasions, Wright will be at the shop cutting hair.
Wright said he chose Rutgers to start his business because it was where he started cutting hair.
He first picked up the clippers when he was 13, working on his own hair, then his friends’. It was easy to trust his young hands.
“People knew how detailed I was, how precise I was,” he said. “I cared about everything I did.”
By the time he was at Rutgers, word had gotten out that he was a talented barber. Soon, everyone – from his teammates to the coaching staff and their children – wanted Wright to style their hair. He was in such demand that then-Coach Kyle Flood bought Wright a barber’s chair and set it up in the locker room.
“The ‘Wright Cut’ became well known around the Rutgers community,” he said. “When I graduated and was about to go to the NFL, all the guys said to me, ‘We don’t know where to get our haircuts now.’ I said to them, ‘Don’t worry. In a couple of years, I’ll be back.’ “
One of his clients was his college roommate, Eric LeGrand, who was a defensive tackle for Rutgers.
"I used to come home from class and see all the people lined up waiting to get a cut from Tim," LeGrand recalled, "so I had to see what he was all about."
Wright began shaping LeGrand's hair every couple weeks.
The Plaza, with its dozen eateries and stores on the Livingston Campus, was the perfect place to open his business at Rutgers, Wright said. When he learned about the vacancy, he jumped on board.
LeGrand, too, agreed the location is a good spot for Wright. "We have been going to and playing in RU football games since 2005," said LeGrand. "He has built a huge following there. He will be doing what he loves where he loves."
If you go for a cut later this year, don’t expect to sit in that famous chair Flood bought him. After years of holding hefty football players (some weighing as much as 350 pounds), Wright said that chair gave way and eventually broke down. But the plaque declaring him the team barber will be hung at the shop.
Earlier this year, Wright took a five-day business course at the University of Michigan. NFL offered the program for former and current players to help them transition into a life without football.
The program provided Wright the tools to run a business, but he knew long before he took the course what he wanted to do after. The barbershop will also fit in his broader plan to mentor and guide underprivileged children through his foundation, The Wright Way Academy. He will open his shop for on-the-job training for cosmetology and also learn to run a business.
“Being a barber is one of my passions,” he said. “It’s all about leaving a legacy for what I’ve been doing for so many years.”