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Pony up

Tom Brady’s pulled-back ’do puts him in good (and bad) company

Tom Brady Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo)
By Christopher Muther
Globe Staff / March 10, 2011

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When Patriots quarterback Tom Brady pulled his hair out of his face this week at Carnival in Brazil and fastened it into a ponytail, not only did he set off a maelstrom in the sports world, he also entered a very exclusive club of male celebrities who have bravely faced public scorn and pony prejudice.

It takes a brave man to strut proudly in a ponytail. In pop culture, the male ponytail is used to signify everything from nerdy pretentiousness (think John Cusack in “Being John Malkovich’’) to old-timey romantic swashbuckling (Antonio Banderas in “Zorro’’).

Many gents are under the false impression that a ponytail can distract from a receding hairline, which sadly makes it a favorite with some boomers. Can Brady help update the image of the male pony the same way he made Justin Bieber hair safe for pro athletes? Only time will tell. For now, here are some of the best and worst dude ponytails. Welcome to the club, Tom!