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SanAntonioSteelerFan
02-02-2011, 09:31 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/sport ... nted=print (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/sports/football/02hair.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=print)



# The New York Times Reprints

February 1, 2011
Keisel’s Beard Is the ‘Scruff of Legend’
By JOHN BRANCH

ARLINGTON, Tex. — Jack Passion knows a thing or two about beards. With his orange-red “waterfall of hot lava,” as he called it, spilling from his chin, he is the country’s only full-time professional beard grower. It is not a lucrative job, really, but between the worldwide contests he wins and the book he wrote about beard growing, he can be considered an expert on the subject.

Which is why Passion knows all about Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel. Or, more specifically, the two-toned tangle of tonsorial madness hanging off of Keisel’s face.

“It is raw and it is real and it is healthy,” Passion said. “It is like the coat of a wolf.”

The relationship between Keisel and his beard, which NFL Network recently declared the best beard in league history (ahead of those of Dan Fouts, Lyle Alzado and Franco Harris), has been growing since June.

On Tuesday, they shared a podium and addressed the stew of journalists during the Super Bowl’s media day at Cowboys Stadium. For 60 minutes, most of the questions were about the beard. Some were addressed to the beard itself.

“People are saying that I’m taking beard-enhancing drugs, but I’m not,” Keisel said.

Beards have a long history in sports. Hockey players have long sprouted playoff beards, a way to measure the passage of time and victories. Last October, the San Francisco Giants were helped to a World Series title by closer Brian Wilson, whose jet-black beard became a favorite adornment of fans and trick-or-treating children.

In the N.F.L., players increasingly sprout beards under their face masks, particularly in the postseason. When Keisel lines up on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, four of the five opposing offensive linemen will be harnessing beards under their chin straps.

But Keisel’s is different from any other. It is like an ill-fitting mane.

“It’s its own entity,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “He hides everything in there. We go hunting, and he hides his decoys in there.”

Keisel’s beard has come to represent Pittsburgh in a way that Troy Polamalu’s long, curly hair or the crisp, manicured lines of Coach Mike Tomlin’s facial hair cannot. Even the costumed and stubble-faced Steely McBeamlooks less like the team’s mascot than Keisel.

There is a Facebook page devoted to the beard, with more than 20,000 fans. A song was written about it by Pittsburgh radio disc jockeys. (“The day it appeared, Steeler Nation cheered, fear the beard,” the lyrics go.) The Beaver County (Pa.) Times called Keisel’s whiskers “the scruff of legend.”

Three men in Pittsburgh spawned a site, KeiselBeardMe.com, hours before the Steelers beat the Jets in the A.F.C. championship game two Sundays ago. It allows people to download their favorite photographs — of themselves, spouses, children, pets, Mount Rushmore, whatever — and adorn them with Keisel’s beard. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 7,000 had done just that.

“It’s gone past being just a beard,” said John Campbell, who put together the idea and the site with his co-workers Nick Cobler and David Smith. “It’s Superbeard.”

Keisel is glad to play along. At 32 and in his ninth season with the Steelers, he has toiled in relative anonymity on the front right edge of Pittsburgh’s top-ranked 3-4 defense. Linebacker James Harrison and Polamalu, the safety named this week as the N.F.L.’s defensive player of the year, soak up most of the attention.

But Keisel — it rhymes with diesel — made the Pro Bowl for the first time this season. He had a 79-yard interception return for a touchdown against Tampa Bay in September. He punctuates big plays with playfulness — pretending to paddle in a river, for example, when he sacked San Diego’s Philip Rivers in last season’s playoffs.

Things really started to change last June when, on a hunting trip with his father, Keisel did not shave. He has not since, deciding that he would get a head start on a playoff beard.

“I have my teammates to blame,” Keisel said, straight-faced — as far as anyone could tell. “I said that as long as we’re winning games, I’ll let this thing go. So it’s their fault.”

The beard hangs about four inches below the best guess as to where Keisel’s chin resides. It has curl and body and heft. Keisel’s lips and teeth are buried deep inside the fur. (“The worst part is hairballs,” Keisel said.) The beard and mustache have a blondish sheen, but the hair is darker on the sideburns.

When he laughed, the smile was in his eyes and his scrunched-up nose.

“There are not a lot of jobs in America where you can look like this — where your boss is going to say: ‘You know what? That’s a good look. Make sure you keep coming to work looking like that,’ ” Keisel said.

Weeks ago, the Steelers’ owner, Dan Rooney, a steward of tradition, asked Keisel what he was doing. Keisel offered to shave.

“He said, ‘No, you let it eat,’ ” Keisel said. “ ‘But I’m going to call you Santa.’ He’s called me Santa ever since.”

The 78-year-old Rooney really said, “Let it eat?”

“Yeah, Mr. Rooney’s got the lingo down,” Keisel said.

Keisel recently snapped his own photograph and stuck it on T-shirts that read “Respect the Beard: Fear the Diesel.” They are available for $18.99 at BrettKeisel.com.

On Tuesday, as Roethlisberger sat on a podium nearby and was peppered with questions regarding last summer’s sexual-assault accusations and subsequent four-game suspension by the N.F.L. to start this season, Keisel, his best friend, provided a comic diversion.

After Keisel stepped up to his perch, Roethlisberger strode by, carrying a full beard and wielding a video camera.

“Beard got a name?” Roethlisberger asked.

“The Beard,” Keisel replied.

For 60 minutes, serious-minded reporters came and went, asking about Roethlisberger, the defense, the Packers, the icy weather that greeted North Texas on Tuesday and what Keisel thought about playing in the third Super Bowl of his career.

Most queries, however, were about the Beard. Many asked how he cared for it. (Shampoo, conditioner and an occasional combing to “brush the birds and squirrels out.”) One asked if it could win a fight with Polamalu’s hair. (“It would be a grudge match, but I’m confident in the Beard.”) About a dozen people asked if he planned to shave it. (“It’s going to come off pretty quickly after the Super Bowl,” he said to one.)

But part of him is curious to see how far the Beard could go.

“I’ve thought, if we win, if I should just let it go until next year, because it’s still winning,” Keisel said. “But I don’t want to push the envelope too much.”

The envelope at home?

“Yeah,” he said with a laugh. His wife, Sarah, gave him a razor for Christmas, he said.

It probably will not make it to next fall, when Beard Team USA — there is one — holds its national championship in Lancaster, Pa. Passion, the two-time and reigning world champion in the “natural full beard” category, says that Keisel’s beard could be competitive.

“People would come in droves to support him,” Passion said.

Passion explained that beards said more about the inside of a person than the outside.

“In a man, a good beard is a sign of good health, a good testosterone level, a good measure of general man-ness,” Passion said.

If that is the case, Keisel has high marks in all categories. It is as obvious as the look on his face.

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frankthetank1
02-02-2011, 10:43 AM
i loved ryan clarks quote about the beard. he said brett has to tuck half his beard in his mouth to get his mouth guard in. haha that is hillarious :lol: :lol:

Djfan
02-02-2011, 01:38 PM
i loved ryan clarks quote about the beard. he said brett has to tuck half his beard in his mouth to get his mouth guard in. haha that is hillarious :lol: :lol:


And a little gross.

Wolfhound45
02-02-2011, 02:58 PM
I know I am going to get flamed for this, but I do not care. It is time for Kiesel to come clean on this. You all saw him when he reported to camp. A scruffy (at best) wisp of a beard that even a teenager would be embarrassed to show off.

http://cache1.asset-cache.net/xc/89746837.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921CC759DF4EBAC47D0EE31EBDABD7A0DE2 84B813FAE01F729CA095D3B1139C4ECDE30A760B0D811297

And now, seven months later, he has that "woolly mammoth" hanging off of his chin?

http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/brett-keisel-beard.jpg

Sorry, no sale. Something is going on here. Maybe he has been into Troy's H&S bottle one time too many. Maybe he is taking "lessons" from ZZ Top. I do not know. But there is some "beard enhancement" going on here and I want the Steelers and the league to investigate.

:P

SanAntonioSteelerFan
02-02-2011, 08:10 PM
I know I am going to get flamed for this, but I do not care. It is time for Kiesel to come clean on this. You all saw him when he reported to camp. A scruffy (at best) wisp of a beard that even a teenager would be embarrassed to show off.

http://cache1.asset-cache.net/xc/89746837.jpg?v=1&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=77BFBA49EF878921CC759DF4EBAC47D0EE31EBDABD7A0DE2 84B813FAE01F729CA095D3B1139C4ECDE30A760B0D811297

And now, seven months later, he has that "woolly mammoth" hanging off of his chin?

http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/brett-keisel-beard.jpg

Sorry, no sale. Something is going on here. Maybe he has been into Troy's H&S bottle one time too many. Maybe he is taking "lessons" from ZZ Top. I do not know. But there is some "beard enhancement" going on here and I want the Steelers and the league to investigate.

:P

Dear WolfHound45 -

It has come to my attention that you may have some information that would be best confided for me for the good of the game, as I see fit to define it. I have interviewed easily two dozen other (Steeler) players, and not one of them stepped up and supported the player in question, or definitively denied that there were Beard-enhancing substances involved. I would be very grateful if I could add you to the list. For the good of the league, you know. Signed - Emperor Charles I , err, sorry, C. Goodell

Wolfhound45
02-03-2011, 12:09 PM
Dear WolfHound45 -

It has come to my attention that you may have some information that would be best confided for me for the good of the game, as I see fit to define it. I have interviewed easily two dozen other (Steeler) players, and not one of them stepped up and supported the player in question, or definitively denied that there were Beard-enhancing substances involved. I would be very grateful if I could add you to the list. For the good of the league, you know. Signed - Emperor Charles I , err, sorry, C. Goodell

:P

I know NOTHING, NO-THING!

http://cdn.ihatethemedia.com/wp-content/uploads/sergeant-schultz-e1289995140314.jpeg