When the Baltimore Ravens signed free agent safety Eric Weddle in March, he arrived to Baltimore without one important thing: his beard. Weddle shaved the bushy facial hair to represent a new beginning in his career.
But when Weddle met his new teammates, they insisted he grow back the beard. "I had to bring it back for the people. It's like the people's champ," said Weddle, whose Twitter handle is @weddlesbeard.
Not since fans went wacko for Joe Flacco's Fu Manchu mustache in 2011, has facial hair been this noteworthy on the Ravens.
So we talked to Weddle exclusively about beards, with his new one now six months in the making.
How old were you when you grew your beard?
"I first started probably four years ago. The whole reason I started it, I saw my dad in a picture, fishing in Mexico and (he) had a big, old beard. And I thought to myself, '1.) Can I grow one? And '2.) If I can, I got to beat him.' That's how it originated. It kind of grew into this mythical being in itself. I roll with it and it's pretty awesome, it's unique."
Are there any players you've played against or played with that have a beard that you admired?
"Brett Keisel [the former Steelers defensive end], when he was always growing his every year. It was pretty gnarly, and he wouldn't cut anything. His mustache was down past his lip he looked like a mountain man. I grow mine up to look presentable. He was one that you knew his beard was going to be pretty epic. If I don't trim the upper lip, my wife wouldn't kiss me. You have to take into account her needs as well (laughter)."
What did you think of Andrew Luck beard?
"It's not a very good beard. It's kind of patchy. He's kind of in between fully commit to the beard or have it just go clean shaved. Some people can pull it off, and he's not one of them."
Have you ever found anything [food wise] in your beard?
"Oh yeah, the worst part is you'll be eating and you'll get something in it or stuck in and you don't really fel it. So, if no one tells you, you'll just be walking around with food or sauce stuck in your beard and you're looking like a moron."
Do you have to use any grooming oils or product for your beard?
"No, not really. It's all natural, baby I don't color it; [I] shampoo it once a week. I brush it, brush it after every practice and stuff, just because it gets tangled. It's just all natural, let it grow, let it be, let it be real."