Friday, February 7th, 2020

Bye Bye Beard

Craig Llewellyn

Bye Bye Beard

Craig Llewellyn NFL

Eric Weddle has called time on his storied NFL career and, while receivers and ball carriers league-wide may breathe a little sigh of relief, all will mourn the loss of some of the game’s more celebrated face fuzz.

Weddle decided that enough was enough after undergoing, remarkably, the first surgery in his decade-plus pro career, noting that the Rams defensive makeover – in favour of younger talent – would probably require him to move on to another team. Having already spent nine years in San Diego and another three in Baltimore, cutting short his time in Los Angeles was not that hard a decision. A hard-hitting, ball-hawking safety of the first order, the California native made six Pro Bowls, snatched 29 interceptions, recorded 9.5 sacks and forced eight fumbles, adding five touchdowns for good measure in a career that exceeded a double century of games.

Already one of the more memorable characters of his era, however, Weddle was just as famous for his beard as for his forceful play, and news of his retirement got us thinking back to the early days of Gridiron when, as part of our ‘Cool Dudes’ edition, we compiled our top five facial favourites. That list, which appeared in 2014, featured the following, with a few more infamous creations thrown in for balance…

Eric Weddle
Like all ‘big beards’, Weddle admits to struggling to fasten his helmet chinstrap, but there’s no sign of him reaching for the ‘safety razor’

Ryan Fitzpatrick
The ‘Amish Rifle’ has been growing his face fuzz since the cold, cold days in Buffalo; will it survive the warmer climes of Texas?

Nick Mangold
Dye it white and he could be Santa Claus. A poll to name Mangold’s mane resulted in a landslide victory for ‘Mjolnir’ after Thor’s hammer of choice

Travis Frederick
Second-year Cowboy was already cultivating impressive chin growth when he left college but is proving he’s more than worthy of wearing it.

Brett Keisel
The beard by which all others are judged, despite a recent trim, Keisel’s impressive growth is not alone in having its own Twitter account!

Heading those on the ‘Not So Cool’ list back in the day was a certain QB whose retirement bookends the 2019 season, while there are others who, while not necessary big names, had faces you’ll just have to look up…

Andrew Luck
Neck beards might have looked good on Civil War officers, but NFL quarterbacks?

Sean McGrath
Nothing on top, but plenty underneath

Antonio Garay
Caution! Sculptor at work!

Jeff Saturday
Cultivated in every sense of the word

Ed Reed
A beautiful tinge of grey.

With the passing of time, many of the above have preceded Weddle into retirement, handing balm and blade onto a new wave of bearded wonders. Visit our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages to have your say on who should succeed our best-loved beards… Will Fitzmagic and Frederick still feature? Can Jason Kelce’s mohawk combo look make the list? What about bearded Browns Odell Beckham Jr and Baker Mayfield? A veteran sprouting like Julian Edelman’s or young growth like Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott? Carson Wentz? Josh Norman? Let us know what you think…

Content for this article originally appeared in Issue XI of Gridiron magazine – for individual editions or subscriptions, click HERE

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