You may have noticed that pretty much every player on the Red Sox looks like a lumberjack or biker these days. A small group of players experimented with the look in Spring Training, the story goes, and their teammates began to follow suit as the squad coalesced en route to its first playoff berth since 2009.
It's a cute story and all -- though the celebratory beard-tugging thing creeps me out -- but these Red Sox look like a bunch of amateurs compared to Minnesota Vikings superfan Emmett Pearson.
Pearson died Monday at 83, having rocked his beard for a whopping 38 years while waiting for a Super Bowl title that, sadly, never arrived in his lifetime.
The Vikings in the 1970s were sort of the precursor to the Buffalo Bills of the late 1980s and early 1990s: always a bridesmaid. Led by the revered Purple People Eaters defensive line, Minnesota reached the Super Bowl three times in a four-year span, losing each time. After the second of those crushing losses, in Super Bowl IX against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pearson vowed not to shave until the Vikings claimed the Lombardi Trophy. He kept his promise.
The Vikings had some close calls in the meanwhile. In 1998, Minnesota was 15-1 in the regular season, lead by a rejuvenated Randall Cunningham and rookie wide receiver Randy Moss. That team was upset in the NFC title game by the Atlanta Falcons. In 2009, the Brett Favre-led Vikings lost in the NFC title game to the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Saints, in a hard-fought game that could have gone either way.
Pearson's beard remained intact throughout all of it.
If Pearson sounds like a crazed fan, well, that's kind of the definition of sports fandom. But his obituary paints a charming picture of a loving man who was active in his community:
More than the Vikings, farming and education, his family was most important to Emmett and he loved them dearly.
He may have died bearded and without a Super Bowl title, but it seems like he enjoyed the ride. That's something we can all cheer for.