People say some of the greatest men that have ever lived had a beard. Abraham Lincoln. William Shakespeare. Ernest Hemingway. Just to name a few.
It seems as though being able to grow a full, lengthy beard grants someone an automatic ticket to respect and high praise from others. Even in today’s society, “quality” facial hair is seen as a sign of true manliness.
If there’s someone on Morningside College’s campus that best represents the affect that having a beard has on other people, it’s senior Joe Brummer and his renowned full-face of hair.
“I’ve never said a word to the guy,” said Sophomore Nate DeChaine, “but his beard is absolutely amazing. It’s almost scary. He’s not a guy I would mess with.”
Nate’s comments summarize the thoughts people have of Brummer if they’ve never spoken to him before. It’s always the same thing: the beard intimidates them. It makes sense, because there aren’t a lot of guys on the Morningside campus that can grow the beard that Brummer grows even if they tried for months—and it only takes Joe a couple of weeks.
Brummer has also been a starting offensive lineman for Morningside’s football team that has won four straight conference championships. He’s about 6 feet tall and 260 pounds. If the beard alone doesn’t intimidate someone, his stature will.
Brandon Booth, a good friend and teammate of Brummer’s since their freshman year, didn’t see what kind of beard Joe could grow until about half way through the fall of 2012.
“Well, I don’t know, when I first met him 4 years ago, he didn’t really have the beard. I became friends with him because he was just a nice guy. Then I realized he could grow a massive beard.”
People that not only know Brummer well, but also have just had normal conversations with Joe have come to realize that he’s a “down to earth” and “regular” guy.
“He’s always been a good teammate and an even better friend,” said Booth.
Brummer is from Harlan, Iowa, which is a couple of hours east of where he goes to school now. He went to a catholic elementary and middle school where having any facial hair at all was not allowed for students or the faculty. Typically, that rule would only be one for the faculty to care about. Except for Brummer. Joe started growing facial hair in 5th grade.
When Brummer got to Harlan High School, he was able to grow a beard that even seniors at his school would marvel at. His friends admired it, girls pulled and giggled at it, and his mom hated it.
It wasn’t until Joe got to Morningside College and out of his small hometown when he noticed how differently people started treating him because of his beard.
“Freshman year, people respected my beard more than they respected me. Some people acted like they could touch it whenever they wanted and they hardly knew me. I was almost like a dog,” said Brummer, reminiscing and laughing, “It seemed like other people liked it more than I did.”
Joe didn’t even like his beard that much, at first, saying that other people liked it way more than he actually did. He was growing it out for one purpose only: Because the football team was winning.
“I wanted to shave it, but all of my teammates were begging me not to and telling me that it was good luck or some shit like that. Then we almost won the national championship.”
Brummer said it was because of that season that growing the beard out all season became a superstition for him and the team as whole. Even some teammates come up to him and tug on his beard once or twice for good luck before a game.
Other teams didn’t hold back their astonishment at the size of his beard, either. According to Brummer, after games and even during games, players from the other side would tell him that they loved it or were jealous of it. That’s not easy to do, considering the teams that Brummer has played on at Morningside have a total record of 49 wins and only 7 losses.
The beard had the power to make people overcome their hurt pride to recognize it.
Sadly, however, Joe’s college football career and beard legacy is officially over. Only four hours after suffering a heartbreaking loss in the semi-finals to end the season, Brummer decided to shave the beard.
“Well, it was getting really itchy and hard to maintain. At least I kept the goatee. People can’t tug on that, thank God.”
Joe may be a fantastic friend and teammate to those close to him, but he’ll always be remembered at Morningside College as the most recognizable beard on campus for four years.