“It feels like a cape, you can hide behind it, it empowers you,” says Dodgers pitcher J.P. Howell.
Perhaps in 20 years we’ll look back and wonder what the fuss was all about, but according to many top athletes, it’s not just a trend, it’s now a part of them and their persona.
And if you don’t believe that facial hair can have this kind of power over a man’s psyche, perhaps we should take a look back at history.
“Something so awesome, no other words can describe it. The epitome of greatness. The Holy Grail of all things amazing. Divine in nature because of the sheer intensity with which its magnificence radiates outward.”
Now, that is a bit much, I’ll admit, but is there something behind the beard that makes an athlete feel more confident in their performance?
Maybe, maybe not, but like it or not, the beard has made a major impact in the world of sports… across the board.
Besides the fact that nothing says you’re a badass better than a powerful overbearing beard, there is something magical in that beard that brings out the best in some athletes.
The NFL has a number of athletes who rock the face fuzz but none better than, or as famously as, Brett Keisel.
In February 2011, "Da Beard" was removed during a ceremony titled "Shear the Beard" in downtown Pittsburgh.
The event raised over $40,000 for the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
The “Shear Da Beard,” charity event started with Keisel but has become an annual thing for the Steelers Nation as a whole.
To the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Keisel said he started growing his now infamous beard simply to change the team's luck, because it missed the playoffs the previous season.
Keisel refers to his beard as a "beautiful thing" and "the greatest beard of all time”.
The saying “Fear the Beard” started with Keisel and his famous facial coif. And because of its infamy, it has its own website, online store, as well as its own Facebook page and multiple Twitter accounts dedicated to the power of “Da Beard”.
The facial hair of a Viking and the heart of gold...
That my friends is a shining example of a powerhouse behind a badass beard.
Baller James Harden of the Houston Rockets has a beard that has become something of a phenomenon all by itself.
And just like the biblical Samson’s hair gave him strength, Harden’s beard clearly has shifted him into overdrive.
By the time he joined the Oklahoma City Thunder, the righteous beard had made it ways onto
Harden's beard has even had songs written about it. As the beard continued to grow and capture NBA fans' imaginations, the Thunder reached the NBA finals and Harden helped the USA win Olympic gold.
Playing for the Houston Rockets since 2013, the beard and the man behind it have not disappointed.
To add to his ever growing list of accomplishments (pun intended), James and his famous follicle forest have now made their mark as one of the best players to use the “euro-step” move and not surprising, it’s impossible to defend.
With his ability to finish at the basket or get to the line, he has become a nightmare for defenses. Harden, who is already a first-team All-NBA talent and all-world scoring machine, could be a potential league MVP, and help the Rockets become a legitimate NBA championship contender.
Proof in the beard? Hmmmm... I’d say so!
Of course no legitimate beard list is complete without the inclusion of the fantastically strange and overwhelming mystical beard on the face of Brian Wilson.
During the playoff run, Giants' fans began growing their own beards or wearing fake beards while chanting and holding up signs bearing the "Fear the Beard," motto.
Clearly Wilson has enjoyed a great deal of media attention during his career thanks to the beard with
With his oversized man-o-meter, tattoo covered arms and bizarre persona, Wilson is perfectly made for Hollywood and people just can’t get enough of him.
No doubt, Wilson has the best beard ever rocked in MLB history, and I am hopeful that the beard power will give him the leverage he needs right now.
According to NBC Sports, Wilson and his beard are back on the free agent market after the Dodgers released him December 19th, 2014.
Release the beard magic, Brian, and all will be just fine.
"I feel like I'm bigger, stronger and faster than I have ever been before and I haven't even touched my potential yet." Says UFC heavyweight Travis Browne.
Speaking of his knockout of the night win over Alistair Overeem back in 2013, “The beard has its own power,” reveals Browne. “That night it helped me recover, get back to my feet, and knock Overeem out, for sure.”
Browne told Middleeasy.com that a razor hasn’t touched his face in over twelve years.
“Some people think that the beard-growing trend going around right now is just that - a trend,” he says. “While it may be for some, it's a way of life for me. I've currently been growing my beard since July 2013, and while sometimes it gets in my soup while I'm trying to eat, I love it and it's my companion and friend.”
Browne is undoubtedly one the toughest and most feared heavyweights in the UFC. In 2014 at UFC 181, “Hapa’s” bearded chin took quite a beating by Brendan Shaub early in the first round, but Browne immediately turned the tables and pummeled Shaub getting a TKO at 4:50 in that very first round.
With that said, there may be reason why having a beard is considered a euphemism for possessing a granite chin… perhaps Shaub should take a note here…
a little chin fuzz does not conjure up the same power as a beard.
Now if we are talking beard awesomeness in MMA, I’m sure you are wondering where is referee Mike Beltran on this list…
Well my friends, let me introduce you to one of the greatest mustaches in the world.
That’s right, you’re looking at a mustache, not a beard, although his navel length hybrid/mustache/beard/mutton chop masterpiece is the king of MMA facial hair.
As one of the fastest if not THE fastest growing sports, CrossFit now boasts some of the greatest bearded warriors today.
With all eyes on four-time champion Rich Froning it’s hard not to miss the bearded style that has become trendy among CrossFit athletes.
Owner of the clothing line BeardGod Apparel, Torin Simpson, says:
“A beard has the ability to increase your overall fitness level by 400%. If your beard is long enough, try trapping it under the bar in the front rack position: guaranteed PR on your front squat. On pull-ups, you only have to get your beard to the bar, so you’re sure to move much more efficiently. Who’s going to argue with that?”
With the pressure of 200,000 live spectators as well as the world watching on his shoulders, it’s no wonder he feels the need to put in that much time at the gym.
According to Froning:
“CrossFit is a great fitness program, it works. Pick things up and put them down, run, [and] carry stuff. It's what our bodies were made to do—not sit on a machine and do single joint movements. Those are good things if that's what you want to do—it's better than sitting and doing nothing.”
Like it or not, I think he certainly deserves a spot on this list. Rich Froning is without a doubt an exemplary bearded warrior!
And as an ode to all of these amazing athletes and their beard prowess, I would like to also celebrate the fans who have given their beards a celebrity status in support of their love for sports.
Most notorious is Garey Faulkner, who happens to be one of the most famous bearded faces in the world today.
Faulkner has made his way into record books because of the incredible ways he uses his beard and without a doubt he has one of the most colorful and creative uses of chin growth I have ever seen.
Through personal appearances and his Facebook fan page, he uses these creations to raise money for charity, re-homing animals…
And yet still remains a manly man.
So there you have it, my list of amazing beards and the athletes behind them.
Did I convince you that facial hair gives guys confidence and belief in the beard performance mojo? Perhaps not, but when I sit next to my husband and he begins to rub his beard on my cheek... all I can say is “aww, don’t stop!” I would bet that counts as having some mystical quality… be it better performance on the field/ court/ or mat or just getting your lady to swoon. Either way, you win every time.
A super special thank you goes out to Beards.org, Beard Appreciation Society, Beards and Tattoos, Beard Brothers, Playbeard, My Bearded Life, Choice Beard &Co., and so many others that shared our last article Why She Is Super Attracted To Your Beard.