I think it’s safe to say that 2013 was dominated by facial hair. First, the Robertson Family with their luscious beards from Duck Dynasty became massively popular; and in doing so raked in millions of dollars for A&E and Duck Commander. There was also the rise of the beard in sports, most notably by the Boston Red Sox who grew out their facial hair en route to their World Series Championship. Lastly, the guys over at Movember raised record amounts of money for research and awareness of men’s health related issues.
But what the “porn-stache” was to the 1970s, the beard is to 2014. For as many different styles of mustaches there are, there are an equal number of beard styles. For instance, some guys might decide to just forgo their razors forever, just like the Robertson clan seems to have done. Other men might be more inclined to keep their faces semi trimmed and keep a darker shadow, something that takes a little skill and a lot of patience.
In the sports world, we have seen an exponential growth in the numbers of athletes who are growing beards. Beards are no longer just for hockey players and for the playoffs, but rather a statement of one’s manhood, despite the fact that some still can’t seem to grow a beard well into their 20s.
Is the trend here to stay? That is still up for debate. For some athletes the beard is a good look and can help to cover up their ugly mugs. As for others, there is a little too much man going on, and they should probably enlist their wives’ stylist for advice.
10. Sidney Crosby – Center – Pittsburgh Penguins
Ok, so this one is only great to laugh about. For as much talk as there has been about beautiful beards, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to shed light on one of the biggest beard failures of all time; Sidney Crosby. I’ll give it to him, he did an admirable job on trying to grow out his playoff beard, but it left much to be desired. It seems that each year the Penguins make the playoffs, Crosby finds himself on just about every “worst playoff beard” lists around the internet. His patchy beard and dirty mustache are enough to make anybody rethink the idea of growing out a beard, especially when they know it will more than likely never fully develop. But, you can’t knock him for trying to fit in with the rest of his teammates, and for that, he deserves a spot on our list. A for effort, Sid.
9. Jimmie Johnson – NASCAR Driver
The six-time NASCAR Sprint Car Champion has dominated the sport, and now he’s dominating men’s health and grooming standards. Johnson has made beards cool, and has been an icon in the sport while doing so. Voted as one of the most influential athletes in sports in 2011 and 2012, Johnson has disrupted the notion of NASCAR being a “redneck” sport and has helped to bring it into the main stream, now the second most popular sport in the country, behind the NFL. Better yet, Johnson’s beard is here to stay for the near future. His mom has given her blessing on the beard in years past so it appears that his well-groomed facial hair isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
8. Jose Bautista – Outfielder – Toronto Blue Jays
When he isn’t hitting home runs and crushing opposing fastballs, Jose Bautista is probably grooming his beard. In fact, fans have come to like his iconic beard so much that there was once a twitter account created named “Bautista’s Beard”. So far this Spring Training, he has been killing it at the plate, which should be a good indication for Blue Jays fans. Since 2010, Bautista has hit at least .630 in each Spring Training, the only knock against him being that he often misses time due to injury. If that is the case again this season, he may want to get rid of the facial hair to see if that changes his luck.
7. Tim Thomas – Goalie – Florida Panthers
Tim Thomas probably has the most versatile and well-groomed facial hair in the NHL. Thomas’ beard in 2011 also ranks as one of the greatest beards in playoff hockey history. Not only because of its thickness, but also because of the coloring and the fact that he won the Stanley Cup with it as a member of the Boston Bruins. After the season, Thomas shaved off his beard for charity and he went back to being baby faced for the summer. Since then, Thomas has dabbled with different facial hair styles; more recently he has grown a hell of a mustache.
6. Jonny Gomes – Outfield – Boston Red Sox
In a season that was known as the “year of the beard”, the Boston Red Sox made an emotional run into the post-season and won the World Series, beards and all. One of the most popular beards on the team belonged to Jonny Gomes, who rose to be one of the most charismatic Sox’ in the club house last season. As all good things must come to an end, Gomes decided to get rid of his beard this offseason, arriving at camp with a cleanly shaven face making him barely even recognizable. Despite the absence of his beard, Gomes and his teammates will probably continue to re-grow their bristles this season. Not only did the beards become a pop culture hit across America, but they offered an opportunity for team bonding, which is far more important than any appearance on the Late Night Show.
5. Simon Whitlock – Professional Dart Player
You can’t talk about beards without mentioning Simon Whitlock. Who the hell is Simon Whitlock? He’s a professional dart player from Australia and he has a gnarly beard. Not the typical full faced beard that we see in the United States, but certainly one that can strike intimidation and fear into any opponent. Currently ranked fourth in the world, Whitlock is hoping to win a championship this season and get his name out there even more. His long chin beard is impressive, given its maintenance needs, but not as impressive as his overall beauty routine. In addition to grooming his beard, Whitlock has said that it takes about nine hours for him to get his hair rebraided the way he likes it.
4. Kimbo Slice – MMA Fighter/Boxer
Originally, Kimbo seemed like just another guy who fought people on YouTube. Thanks to the internet, Kimbo gained notoriety around the country as millions of people watched his recorded street fights and laughed at him when he said he could knock out anybody. Slice made his MMA debut in 2007 as he appeared on a bout card with EliteXC, in a fight against Bo Cantrell. He then went on to be a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter, as he and his beard lost to Roy Nelson via TKO. As for his beard, Kimbo has shown that he takes great care of it, walking the fine line between keeping it groomed and letting it flow.
3. James Harden – Shooting Guard – Houston Rockets
Ever since his days in Oklahoma City, James Harden has had a beautiful beard, making him stand out like a sore thumb on the court. One of the few beards in the league worth noting, Harden keeps it well groomed and probably spends quite a bit of time on its maintenance. Similar to Jose Bautista, Harden’s beard has its own twitter handle (@HardenBeard) and he has said he will only shave it off for charity, which is nice of him to say, but lets see if he does it. He’s also gone on record saying he gets almost anything he eats stuck in his beard, which is kind of gross but at least he won’t be hungry later, right?
2. Brett Keisel – Defensive End – Pittsburgh Steelers
Without a doubt, Keisel has one of the best beards in the history of the NFL. The seventh round draft pick out of Brigham Young has played with the Steelers for his entire career, recording 376 tackles and 26 sacks. In addition, Keisel’s beard has been a huge hit for the fans, and not just because its looks like it belongs to a Viking. After the Steelers’ season, Keisel and the team worked together at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to raise money for the oncology department. The “Shear Da Beard” movement raised over $100,000 for the hospital and Keisel went baby faced. This just goes to show that even though he may look like he’s from the 15th century, Keisel has a heart of gold when it comes to children.
1. Brian Wilson – Pitcher – Los Angeles Dodgers
One of the most animated characters in the league, Brian Wilson’s beard can be summed up in one word: epic. The length down to his chest, along with the dark color is impressive, and probably intimidating for most batters to face. As a free agent in 2013, it was speculated that the New York Yankees could have signed him. Turns out Wilson went out of his way to let everybody know he wouldn’t shave his beard off for anybody, including the Yankees. Wilson signed with the LA Dodgers this offseason and is in line to become the setup man for the team in 2014.