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Horseshoes to handlebars: The most famous facial hair in Tampa Bay sports history

From a mutton-chop look to a “Magic” one, we rank the top 10 brandished in these parts.
Ryan Fitzpatrick sported his prominent beard, and some of teammate DeSean Jackson's threads, during a postgame news conference following a Week Two upset of the Eagles in 2019.
Ryan Fitzpatrick sported his prominent beard, and some of teammate DeSean Jackson's threads, during a postgame news conference following a Week Two upset of the Eagles in 2019.
Published Apr. 15
Updated Apr. 15

During his first visit with Tampa Bay area media Wednesday, new Bucs running back Giovani Bernard came clean.

Or more specifically, clean-shaven. Among the conversation pieces Bernard left behind in Cincinnati was the profound, polyester-era mustache conceived during quarantine and nurtured throughout his eighth and final season with the Bengals.

“I don’t know about most guys, but when I shave, I normally just do, like, random things with my facial hair,” he said.

“So I just kept the ‘stache and my wife looked at me and she said, ‘It looks kind of cool, I like it.’ So I just let it ride throughout the season, and then I took the team pictures, and the guys just fell in love with it. It hit social media, and I just felt like I couldn’t let it go.”

New Bucs running back Giovani Bernard has shaved the mustache that developed a celebrity status of its own last season in Cincinnati.
New Bucs running back Giovani Bernard has shaved the mustache that developed a celebrity status of its own last season in Cincinnati. [ BRYAN WOOLSTON | Associated Press (2020) ]

It was only in mid-January, when the bristles started interfering with his ability to breathe, that Bernard finally seized a razor and relented. But had he arrived in Tampa in all his whiskered splendor, he still would’ve been hard-pressed to match the most memorable collections of sports facial hair in area lip-sweater lore.

We decided to rank those collections. And trust us, shaving down the list was no easy task.

10. Colby Rasmus

Former Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus and his unorthodox bearded look spent 32 games with the club in 2017.
Former Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus and his unorthodox bearded look spent 32 games with the club in 2017. [ Times (2017) ]

Possibly the creepiest look on this list. During his cameo as a Rays outfielder (32 games in 2017), Rasmus elicited gasps (and perhaps nausea) when he shaved all his facial hair except the part covering his neck. “I just started growing it out and it doesn’t grow too good up here on my face,” Rasmus said upon arriving for spring training in 2017. “And I don’t like to get the bumps on my neck. It felt good to me.”

9. John Molchon

Bucs practice-squad offensive lineman John Molchon has sported an assortment of facial-hair styles, including this handlebar mustache, dating to his career at Boise State.
Bucs practice-squad offensive lineman John Molchon has sported an assortment of facial-hair styles, including this handlebar mustache, dating to his career at Boise State. [ Tampa Bay Buccaneers ]

While this Bucs practice-squad guard was activated for only one game (Nov. 29 vs. the Chiefs) in his inaugural season last fall, the handlebar mustache he brandished for his official Bucs head shot is all-rookie caliber. Molchon, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Boise State, actually was a facial-hair chameleon of sorts in college, once sporting a mullet and goatee.

8. Luke Scott

Former Rays would-be power hitter Luke Scott's mutton chops left far more of an imprint on the area than his bat (.235 average in two seasons).
Former Rays would-be power hitter Luke Scott's mutton chops left far more of an imprint on the area than his bat (.235 average in two seasons). [ JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2012) ]

This avid outdoorsman’s mutton chops remain far more memorable than his fleeting stint as a Rays would-be power hitter (.235 average, 23 home runs in 187 games). He does warrant huge props, however, for shaving them (as part of a head-shaving team gesture) during spring training in 2013 to help raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

7. Radko Gudas

As hockey beards go (playoffs or otherwise), few sported one as profound as former Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas.
As hockey beards go (playoffs or otherwise), few sported one as profound as former Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas. [ DIRK SHADD | Times (2014) ]

While playoff beards are synonymous with hockey players, this former Lightning defenseman and hip-check extraordinaire exhibited a lengthy one that earned its own Twitter account (@RadkoGudasBeard). “(Gudas) understands that 99 percent of the world can’t grow a beard like that,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said in 2014. “For him to flaunt it off, some of us are little bit envious.”

6. Old-school Bucs

We'll let Lee Roy Selmon, left, with brother Dewey Selmon, represent for the 1970s.
We'll let Lee Roy Selmon, left, with brother Dewey Selmon, represent for the 1970s. [ Times (1976) ]

The Bucs of the mid- to late-1970s were so resplendent in the shagginess of the day, we chose to condense them into one group. Wally Chambers was prominent in the fraternity, as was Council Rudolph and Jim Obradovich. But few possessed the bearded swag of Oklahoma-bred siblings Lee Roy and Dewey Selmon. We can only imagine the look made for some purgatorial training camps.

5. Carlos Valderrama

Tampa Bay Mutiny midfielder Carlos Valderrama may have gotten a few extra points for his glorious mane.
Tampa Bay Mutiny midfielder Carlos Valderrama may have gotten a few extra points for his glorious mane. [ Times (1999) ]

If this list focused on the best hairstyles in local sports lore, Valderrama likely would top it permanently — emphasis on perm. But the fact is, the former prolific Tampa Bay Mutiny midfielder complemented his frizzy locks with a profound ‘stache, the likes of which have been sported by many an adult-movie star.

4. Bucco Bruce

To the chagrin of many Bucs fans, the original Bucco Bruce logo remains affixed to the franchise and will reappear when the team breaks out its retro jerseys at an undetermined future date.
To the chagrin of many Bucs fans, the original Bucco Bruce logo remains affixed to the franchise and will reappear when the team breaks out its retro jerseys at an undetermined future date. [ Tampa Bay Buccaneers ]

Yes, we’re including fictitious facial hair on this list. For better or worse, this original Bucs logo (winking pirate with the handlebar mustache, knife clenched between teeth) remains synonymous with the franchise, not to mention an object of ridicule. Yet a hearty chunk of the fan base can’t wait to see Tom Brady in a creamsicle jersey with Bruce beaming on the side of his white helmet.

3. Wade Boggs

Plant High alumnus Wade Boggs kept his distinct mustache throughout his 18-season big-league career, which ended in 1999 with the Devil Rays.
Plant High alumnus Wade Boggs kept his distinct mustache throughout his 18-season big-league career, which ended in 1999 with the Devil Rays. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times (1999) ]

Even as an original Devil Ray in the twilight of his hall-of-fame career, Boggs kept the Magnum P.I.-era mustache that accompanied him for practically all of his 3,010 career hits. Baseball-Reference.com once ranked his mustache as the third-best in baseball history.

2. Hulk Hogan

The bleached horseshoe mustache has become a trademark for Hulk Hogan, who attended Robinson High (as Terry Bollea).
The bleached horseshoe mustache has become a trademark for Hulk Hogan, who attended Robinson High (as Terry Bollea). [ Times (2019) ]

The most iconic horseshoe mustache in sports-entertainment history belongs to this Robinson High alumnus once known as Terry Bollea. Throughout his 40-plus years in the public consciousness, from power-slamming Andre the Giant to piledriving his reputation with scandals both sordid and controversial, Hogan’s trademark bleached bristles have remained intact.

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick became a fleeting folk hero of sorts in Tampa Bay, leading the Bucs to a 2-0 start in 2018 while Jameis Winston served a suspension.
Journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick became a fleeting folk hero of sorts in Tampa Bay, leading the Bucs to a 2-0 start in 2018 while Jameis Winston served a suspension. [ Times (2018) ]

Pardon our dreadful pun (we can’t help ourselves), but this dude won by far more than a whisker. The Civil War-general facial motif adopted by the journeyman Bucs quarterback, coupled with his two mesmerizing starts (eight TDs, one pick) in place of Jameis Winston to open the 2018 season, made Fitzpatrick a fleeting folk hero in these parts. When he complemented the beard by arriving at the postgame podium in DeSean Jackson’s threads following a 27-21 upset of the Eagles, “FitzMagic” had overtaken Tampa.

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