Steelers' Brett Keisel to shear beard for charity

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If Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel ever gets cut, we hope it isn’t tonight.

Tonight, Mr. Keisel will be sitting in a chair at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Warrendale while teammates, coaches and local celebrities take to his face with sharp instruments — and sheer delight.

It’s “Shear Da Beard,” a charity event that has become an annual thing for Steelers Nation. Just like the playoffs used to be.

During the season, the hard-hitting Mr. Keisel sports the facial hair of a Viking. But he plays with the heart of a Steeler. And the heart of a Steeler doesn’t slow with the end of the football season. The black-and-gold is widely known for its charity work in our community.

“There’s a lot that we do, and then there’s a lot that other people do that we plug into,” said Michele Rosenthal, community relations manager for the Steelers. “Brett alone does stuff for Cystic Fybrosis, Children’s Hospital, the Homeless Children’s Education Fund. It’s a long list of organizations.”

“Shear Da Beard” benefits the oncology program at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Mr. Keisel was inspired to conduct the charity trimming four years ago, after the son of teammate Aaron Smith was diagnosed with cancer (which is now, thankfully, in remission).

“It’s raised over $100,000,” Ms. Rosenthal said. “Which is fantastic. For a man cutting his beard off, it’s amazing.”

There’s more to this than just the spectacle of a Steeler getting shaved. (Though usually that’s enough in itself.) Those attending also will be able to purchase and bid on T-shirts and memorabilia, including autographed jerseys.

Naturally, like all things involving the Steelers, “Shear Da Beard” attracts a healthy share of media attention. Two years ago, Post-Gazette sportswriter Bill Brink covered the “news” event, quoting celebrities as they snipped and quipped.

“It pains me to do this because that is the most epic beard I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Steelers lineman Doug Legursky told the crowd at the time.

Chris Gessner, president of Children’s Hospital, said money raised funds research projects seeking future cures and treatment programs.

“This has been a wonderful event for us,” he said. “We are so excited to have such a wonderful relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Rick Jergel, general manager and partner of Jergel’s, is hosting the event for the second year in a row.

“Last year was a major success,” he said. “Coach [Mike] Tomlin was here. Mr. [Art] Rooney was here. It’s a fantastic charity event for Children’s Hospital and we’re proud to be a part of it.

Jergel’s has called Warrendale home for nearly two years now, and it’s settled in pretty well, Mr. Jergel said.

“We have live entertainment seven nights a week,” he said. “We bring in national acts. Last night we had a sold-out show with the Gin Blossoms. It was a great night. Mother Nature wasn’t kind to us at the end there, but we still had a great crowd. Thank God the snow held off until late.”

The food, drink and entertainment rounds out what should a full evening.

“We’ll have a band tonight — and I’m part of it — called Father Time,” Mr. Jergel said. “We play once a month. It’s an eight-piece horn band. We’re actually playing tonight with Donnie Iris, who is going to sit in with us. I’ll be busy, but it’s going to be a great night.”

This shave and a haircut will cost you more than two bits. It’s $40, but it’s for a good cause. And you get a drink ticket as well as a chance to hit a training-camp-like buffet.

Swatches of beard hair will cost extra.

Jergel’s Rhythm Grille is at 103 Slade Lane (near Northgate Drive) in Warrendale. The event begins at 7 p.m.

Dan Majors:

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