Grooming & Style
Super Bowl Special: Game Stats of Hairy-Faced Footballers
By Mike Hammer
Top NFL players’ numbers are growing at the same pace as their beards and mustaches. Here’s our cutting analysis of what may be the potentially hairy connection.
There needs to be an investigation into a performance-enhancement trend in the National Football League. More All-Pro players are running faster, hitting harder and jumping higher. And we have reason to believe the performance-enhancing evidence is as clear as the nose on their faces -- or at least the brush right underneath it.
That’s right: Neatly trimmed facial hair has been sprouting all over the league’s elite players’ otherwise ugly mugs. Is it a coincidence that the best of the best are fine-tuning their facial hair like violin strings? We doubt you’ll think so after you read our performance analysis of the hairy-faced men of football.
Facial hairstory:Trimmed beard and goatee
Big Ben and his beard burst on the scene in 2004, when he was drafted by the Steelers. Rocking the vaguely Eastern European goatee and matching mustache, at 23, he became the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback in NFL history. Roethlisberger actually had a fan site (called Ben’s Beard) dedicated to his facial hair, and it was supported by over 14,000 brush buddies. Despite this, in February 2006, he shaved it all off for The Late Show With David Letterman. Just a few months later, he was in a career-threatening motorcycle accident … after which he returned with his beard reborn and went on to lead the Steelers to another Super Bowl championship.
Post-game analysis:Is Roethlisberger’s brush with success only a coincidence? The answer is as plain as the hair on Ben’s face: Without it, Big Ben’s a stopped clock.
Rowdy Receiver’s Face Moss
Team:New England Patriots
Facial hairstory:From well-groomed mustache and beard to hobo-looking face brush
The bad boy of the New England Patriots has had both a hairy and stylish career. He arrived in the NFL from Marshall with a stylin’ (and neatly trimmed) beard and mustache -- along with a criminal rap sheet and a bad reputation. But Moss’ stats and beard grew throughout his pro career as he set the NFL single-season touchdown reception record as a rookie and became the league’s top receiver for the Vikings from 1998 through 2005. Later, as a Pats-man, he led their way to the Super Bowl. This year, though, his beard became particularly unruly, inviting comparisons to a member of ZZ Top. Simultaneously, his numbers dropped -- along with his focus -- and his teammates and opponents questioned his dedication.
Post-game analysis:We’re thinking, if he just gets himself a little trim, he’ll be back in the Pro Bowl.
Facial hairstory:Round-the-clock 5 o’clock shadow
Brett Favre joined the Atlanta Falcons in 1991 -- a fresh-faced kid from Southern Mississippi who … sucked. It took a few years for Favre to find his way to Green Bay and the Don Johnson round-the-clock shadow look that put a fuzzy fine point on his image. Once he mastered the constant mowing of his facial foliage, he simultaneously cranked up the caliber of his gunslinger image. The brush caught fire in 1995 when Favre nailed down his first MVP Awards and led the Packers to their best record in nearly 30 seasons. He then led the team to the Super Bowl title the following season. In the years since, he’s put up Hall of Fame numbers with the Pack, then the Jets and now has the Vikings playing better than they’ve had in years.
Post-game analysis:Once Brett-man started focusing on the crucial details of his All Pro appearance, his meticulous legend as a superhero on the field grew and grew.
Bigfoot’s a Big Hit
Team:New York Jets
Facial hairstory:Wookie puss
Nick Mangold, an offensive lineman taken by the New York Jets in 2006, has grown on the Big Apple like a huge pile of hairy moss on a skyscraper. After a near-Rookie of the Year season (rare for a center), the 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound stunt double for that Bigfoot dude in Harry and the Hendersons is already considered one of the best at his position in the league. He’s all set for his second Pro Bowl season at the tender age (for a side of beef) of 25. So why don’t you know him? Because the dude’s got so much hair on his head and face, he looks like a Wookie.
Post-game analysis:One full contact drill with a razor and a set of sheep shears, and this guy could be as rich and famous as Michael Jordan.
Groomed and Dangerous
Facial hairstory:Stylin’ bristles
Showing up in the mid-’90s, Ray Lewis had a suitcase full of swagger and a macked-out mug full of trimmed, waxed and styled facial hair. He instantly became the most dominant player at his position since Dick Butkus … with a lot more flair. Sure he’s had tough times -- like when he pled guilty to being on the scene of a murder after the 2000 Super Bowl in Atlanta (the only black mark on his otherwise clean off-field record). But that brush with disaster has disappeared in the rearview mirror as Ray-Ray continues to rack up big numbers and batter quarterbacks at the advanced assaulting age of 35! Now sporting a personality to match his civilized style, the eight-time Pro Bowler and 2000 Super Bowl MVP has sacked his bad-boy image to become a Madison Avenue All Star, racking up all sorts of endorsements.
Post-game analysis:When the personality of the defensive face of the NFL caught up with his stylish facial image, Lewis became a media darling.
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Mike Hammer has covered sports and the NFL for such macho titles as Maxim, Stuff and Ladies' Home Journal.
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