Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, known for his lustrous beard, partnered with Head and Shoulders for the third year in a row to spend time this week ahead of Super Bowl 48. Keisel spent time with players from both the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos while making his rounds with fans. While Keisel spent time as a correspondent, he took time out of his busy schedule to give an exclusive interview as well.
Keisel and teammate Troy Polamalu have been featured in several Head and Shoulders television and internet spots that have been noted for their comedic quality. When asked about doing the spots, Keisel admitted that they have been difficult to tape, mostly because of off-the-scenes comedy. Specifically asked about how difficult it has been to remain serious and not laugh during taping, Keisel said that it was "very difficult." He gave credit to comedians and comedic actors. Keisel related that one of the funniest experiences was when he and Polamalu were involved in an air guitar incident. Apparently, Polamalu, who is often considered to be relatively serene and serious, has quite a sense of humor. Keisel spent a lot of time during the interview laughing as well.
Christina Rivers: You and your beard have become something of a status symbol both on and off of the football field. Do you enjoy being synonymous with your facial hair?
Brett Keisel: No doubt. My beard has sort of taken on a life of its own. The beard is the real celebrity.
Keisel admitted, laughing, that at times he feels like the iconic beard sometimes goes ahead as he follows behind.
Rivers: What first inspired you to grow 'Da Beard'?
Keisel: Well, I always kinda had one. I [just] got tired of shaving [laughs]. There really isn't any other NFL player that grows [a beard] to cave man length.
Rivers: In this, your third year at the Super Bowl with Head and Shoulders, who do you suspect may have the best hair and facial hair responses to your questions (in interviews)?
Keisel: Max Unger...he has an impressive beard. I think I have the x-factor with the wings mustache.
Keisel admitted that continuing to grow his beard has not only given him an opportunity to do something for charity, but has helped him feel ready to go into battle with his "brothers" on the Steelers team.
Rivers: One of your many fans is curious if your beard is insured, similar to teammate Troy Polamalu's hair?
Keisel: It's not [laughing]. It doesn't need to be.
On February 5, 2014, Keisel will once again "Shear Da Beard" to raise money for Pittsburgh Children's Hospital UPMC. The benefit will aid cancer programs for children. The event will be held at Jergel's Rhythm Grille with the "shearing" to begin at 7:00 p.m. You can get more details on the event on Keisel's official website.
Rivers: With your "Shear Da Beard" event coming up, do you feel a little lost without the beard? What about your wife and kids?
Keisel: [Laughs] Yeah, for a couple of weeks I have and identity crisis. My wife and the kids, it takes them awhile to get used to it [being clean-shaven].
Keisel also spent time during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII interviewing players about their pre-game rituals, so it seemed appropriate to find out if he has any.
Rivers: Do you have pre-game rituals and what are they?
Keisel: I absolutely do...not hair-related. I tie and untie my shoes...get taped at a certain time...[those rituals] get me in the right frame of mind to do battle.
Rivers: Steeler Nation is interested in whether there is an NFL or Steelers player that influenced you early in your career.
Keisel: No doubt. Jerome Bettis...Joey Porter...
Rivers: Are there any players you've mentored?
Keisel: It's the Steelers way...helping the younger guys. I've been a leader for a long time...I was honored to be named by my teammates as the defensive captain for the second year in a row.
Rivers: If you hadn't played professional football, where do your see yourself being at this point in your life?
Keisel: Good question. I'd probably be involved in coaching somewhere. I enjoy working with kids...football and basketball.
Keisel has played both football and basketball in his lifetime.
Rivers: Which sport do you think you are better at?
Keisel: [Laughing] I'm better at football.
Rivers: Will you come back to be with the Steelers in 2014?
Keisel: That's really up in the air right now. I want to continue to play for as long as I feel that I can, and I feel like I can still play.