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Steelers' Brett Keisel has all-time playoff beard

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel talks with

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel talks with reporters before practice leading up to the AFC Championship game against the Jets. (Jan. 20, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

When Pittsburgh defensive end Brett Keisel stepped to the podium for his pre-AFC title game press conference today with a ski cap pulled down close over his eyes, focusing even more attention on his hirsute appearance, he looked like he'd just come down from a backwoods cabin somewhere in the Appalachians.

"Nice beard," a reporter observed.

"It is nice isn't it," said Keisel, looking as if he could audition for a place with ZZ Top.

How does he get a chinstrap over it? "Just lock it down, baby," he said with a smile.

Keisel went on to explain that he began growing the beard in mid-June just after the Steelers' final mini-camp ended. "It was just something I decided to do," he said. "Playoff beards are big around here in Pittsburgh [with the NHL Penguins]. Obviously, we missed the playoffs the year before. It's just something I tried to do to convince myself we were getting back to the playoffs."

Mission accomplished and then some. Keisel's beard has assumed a life of its own in Pittsburgh. Some fans have taken to wearing fake beards to games, and someone started a Facebook page for the beard.

"That's not me," Keisel said. "I think there's a Twitter page, too. That's not me, either. But someone is having some fun with it, which I don't really mind."

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