“Only in Pittsburgh would this many people turn out to see a guy shave,” he told a cheering crowd of black-and-gold wearing patrons at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Warrendale Thursday.
Then again, he wasn’t referring to lopping off just any old beard.
For the third year in a row, the Steelers’ Brett Keisel, who resides in the Cranberry area, shaved off his fearsome facial hair as part of the “Shear Da Beard” event to benefit the cancer programs at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Chris Gessner, president of Children’s Hospital, said the event has raised close to $100,000 for cancer programs in the last few years.
“He’s really become somewhat of a hero,” he said of Keisel. “His beard is kind of a symbol of hope for all these kids who have cancer at Children’s.”
Baumann, who hosted the event, kicked off the night by singing a rendition of Fear the Beard. Twirling his mustache, which was curled up for the night, Keisel joined him on stage, and even sang the chorus.
The event featured a live and a silent auction, with Keisel good-naturedly egging on attendees that included fellow Steelers to bid on items. At one point, he let a couple hold his Super Bowl rings to encourage them to keep bidding on his portrait.
Several surprise celebrity barbers also made guest appearances on stage to help Keisel lop off his whiskers. Among them were Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, players Charlie Batch, Cam Heyward, Heath Miller and Aaron Smith, and Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney.
Donning elbow-length gloves, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also cut a snippet of Keisel’s beard.
He joked the gloves were because he sits next to Keisel at lunch—and therefore gets a first-hand look at all the food that ends up in his defensive end’s facial hair.
While Keisel went backstage to finish shaving his beard, Pittsburgh legend Donnie Iris and former Poverty Neck Hillbilly Chris Higbee entertained the crowd.
When Keisel emerged to the sounds of Sharp Dressed Man, he was hardly recognizable with a clean-shaven face.
“I feel like it’s coming back already,” he told the crowd as he stroked his face.
Patch was at Thursday’s sold-out event. Click on the videos to watch scenes from “Shear Da Beard.”
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