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Gastelum: Fear the beard (Nov. 17)

Andrew Gastelum | Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It’s that time of the year again. It is the middle of November, which means the leaves are disappearing and surprisingly, so are the beards. This is No-Shave November, Movember, Noshember or whatever you want to call it, but the beards and ‘staches are becoming fewer and fewer.

To some of you, maybe it doesn’t look right, it itches or it’s patchier than the Chicago Bears offensive line. Even Andrew Luck shaved his lumberjack beard — Stanford proceeded to lose to Oregon. Coincidence? I think not.

So to encourage and inspire the few of you beard connoisseurs left, here are the top 10 beards/mustaches in sports history — all of whom have had successful careers that clearly would not have been possible without their whiskers.

No. 10: Larry Bird

Okay sure, the Hick from French Lick’s white-on-white ‘stache was practically invisible, but that is what made it so great. Bird’s blonde invisi-stache first flew into the picture at Indiana State, where he led the Sycamores to the NCAA championship game. Oh and did I mention he won three NBA titles with the Celtics?

No. 9: Brett Keisel

In 2010, the Steelers’ defensive end grew out his beard for eight months, making its encore performance at Super Bowl XLV. The beard almost had a mind of its own and probably trapped as much leftover food as Keisel did quarterbacks. Curly and outrageous, the essence of man was discovered (and has over 35,000 likes on Facebook).

No. 8: Any European NBA player

Whether they even know it is there or not, we will never know. But from Pau Gasol’s neck beard to Dirk’s goatee to Vlade Divac’s beard that looked like it never grew, Europe is without a doubt the leader in raising men’s health awareness.

No. 7: Baron Davis

Despite moonlighting as Kanye West, the Cavaliers point guard finds time to run an offense and is known most for leading the No. 8 seed Warriors over the heavily favored Mavericks in the 2007 “We Believe” playoffs. Thunder forward James Harden is a disciple of Davis and it is a proven fact the Most Interesting Man in the World fashioned his beard after the Baron.

No. 6: George Parros

NHL players are known for growing playoff beards to show team unity, but Parros’ teams don’t need to. His ‘stache/soul patch combo makes the enforcer one of hockey’s most feared players. Oh, and you can follow him on Twitter @stache16.

No. 5: Brian Wilson

The San Francisco Giants closer’s beard is as unpredictable as the flamethrower himself. It intimidated so many hitters in the 2010 World Series that the Giants took home the title. Apparently the beard has also taken a liking to Taco Bell and was the mastermind behind the onesie tuxedo at the ESPY’s.

No. 4: Johnny Damon

The centerfielder/caveman was Boston’s savior in 2004. The Beard hit two home runs in Game 7 of the ALCS against the hated Yankees to win them to the World Series, leading the Sox to their first title in 86 years and breaking the Curse of the Bambino.

No. 3: The Ryder Cup Cigar Guy/Bobby Valentine

Both were impersonations and both were fake Groucho Marx ‘staches, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be celebrated. The Cigar Guy took the 2010 Ryder Cup by storm as he stood in the background of each Tiger Woods tee-off with an orange wig, cigar and a mustache that had more hair than Landon Donovan. The Cigar Guy became an Internet sensation, appearing in classic pictures from Muhammad Ali’s knockdown of Sonny Liston to the Mona Lisa.

Meanwhile, Valentine, as manager of the Mets, was ejected from a game in 1999 and went down in sporting lore by returning to the dugout disguised in a casual fishing hat, glasses and fake mustache.

No. 2: Adam Morrison

This trash-stache led the Lakers to two-straight NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. The year they released Morrison, the franchise was swept in the second round and Phil Jackson retired. And the mustache (if you can call it that) is good for catching tears, right Gonzaga?

No. 1: Rollie Fingers

The waxy handlebar is more than just a mustache; it is an identity. Originally grown to receive a $300 bonus from the Oakland A’s owner, the ‘stache became an icon of facial hair in sports. Consider him the Daniel Boone of sports ‘staches.

If you “moustache”, there is a point to all of this. This month represents a great cause, raising awareness for prostate cancer, a disease that takes the lives of over 30,000 men each year. One in every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and beard-a-thons are taking place all over the country. These athletes above participated, just indirectly. It is that time of the year again, time to show our support.


The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Observer.

Contact Andrew Gastelum at [email protected]