FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Nick Mangold's throne is being challenged by none other than Ryan Fitzpatrick as the two New York Jets vie for who has the best beard in the locker room.
For years, Mangold has had the quintessential beard on his team, the Jets Pro Bowl center being virtually unrivaled among his teammates for having the best crumb duster perhaps in franchise history. But this past offseason, the Jets acquired Ryan Fitzpatrick, who as a quarterback defies conventional norms with his own beard.
There is no animosity between the two, so says Mangold about his bearded brethren of a teammate. The two have different styles of beards, but that doesn't get in the way of their mutual respect and admiration for their shared sporting of a chin curtain.
“I think he does a very commendable job," Mangold told Metro. "I've had a few people come up to me and ask if I feel threatened or rivaled. As a fellow-beard man, I have an appreciation for it. I never feel threatened or jealous of it, you just appreciate it, I'm not concerned. You can tell he has a fantastic one.
“You can tell he puts time into it. I'm more of the live-and-let-live, he is more of a trimming and maintaining type, but it is still full and really rather lovely.”
It is, of course, not a novelty to see an offensive lineman such as Mangold with some lip foliage on display. There is just something about a hulking lineman and his beard that seems to go hand-in-hand.
But quarterbacks typically are clean-shaven and obsessive about public image. That's what makes Fitzpatrick with his lip sweater so unusual.
And worthy of Mangold's respect.
“He's committed to it, which is good to see,” Mangold said. “Especially with all the distractions in this world, it is good to see that he is fully on board with something so vitally important as one's beard because let's be honest, a beard is up there in terms of life's important things.”
The two have talked about their beards, Mangold said, and have swapped grooming tips and insight. He said he found the conversation “informative and full of joy.”