Jets center Nick Mangold has a mindset that keeps him going each and every day. A mindset that isn't about football mind you, but about not shaving. And not shaving as much as possible.
Mangold hasn't shaved since last year and hasn't trimmed his beard since the end of training camp in mid-August as he now sprouts some of the most impressive fuzz in the NFL. In the month of November, when many men forgo their daily shave and donate the money they saved from not buying shaving products to aid in cancer research, Mangold might be the best voice in the tristate area on the topic of beard care.
“It's a mindset; you have to get past the itch. It is kind of like when you grow your hair out, and there is nothing you can do with it and it will get awkward. But then you get past it and you're happy about it,” Mangold told Metro. “You have to be happy about it, or else it just won't work. Then you won't have a beard, and that wouldn't be good.”
His journey of facial hair exploration started during adolescence and continues to evolve.
He sported sideburns in high school in what he calls “a mean chop.” In college he groomed the chinstrap look and the beard came in shortly thereafter. Now in the NFL, his woolly mammoth is one of the best around.
But he admits something that seems as effortless as growing facial hair isn't easy. It is much like blocking a defensive tackle in that it takes preparation and a certain level of virtue.
“You have to stick with it. It isn't easy and can be difficult,” Mangold said. “But with a certain level of fortitude and commitment, anything is possible with your facial hair. You really have to be about vision.”
There are of course challenges to growing a massive facial forest. There is the itch, naturally, as the facial hair turns from shadow covering to something more substantial. Then there is the risk of ingrown hairs.
Mangold is unruffled, if not fastidious, in his grooming. He moisturizes his beard regularly, although he admits this becomes a challenge as it grows longer. And from time to time, he will apply two-in-one shampoo and conditioner to help the overall effect.
The result is a beard that is feared and admired. There is jealousy in the locker room, he says, about how “magnificent my beard is. Petty jealousy.”
He recognizes a tradition of linemen and magnificent facial hair. In Pittsburgh, there is Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, whose perfectly coiffed beard has made headlines. Mangold said after the Jets played the Steelers this year, he thanked Keisel “for all that he's done for us bearded folk.”
“I don't know why offensive linemen like the beard, maybe we don't particularly care what we look like,” Mangold said. “Me? It is the laziness factor. There are benefits. I save money on not buying shaving cream, [and] razors too. I understand that people go through a lot of those. And it also saves me time to do other important things like, well, I don't know. But it is nice to have that option.
“Everybody would be a little bit happier if there was more facial hair in the world.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.