Stepping up as the starter last season, Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen stepped into the media spotlight and earned a number of flattering nicknames for his hard-nosed play and grizzled appearance.
“Lumberjack,” from his starting quarterback Robert Griffin III. “Neanderthal,” from his offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. “Jesus,” from long snapper Nick Sundberg.
In a league where most players grow some facial hair during the season, Paulsen stood out for never trimming or stylizing his face sweater. By the time minicamp rolled around this spring, Paulsen’s beard reached halfway down his chest.
But the beard was a matter of principle, not fashion, as Paulsen grew it in support of his friend and former UCLA teammate Nick Ekbatani, recovering from a motorcycle crash that led to amputation.
Two weeks ago, Ekbatani sent Paulsen a video of him walking for the first time back home in California.
“We saw Nick right at the beginning of the offseason when I went back to visit my parents,” he said. “He was still working through some things in rehab, and he seemed like he was doing well, but it still seemed a little ways off.
“It’s been about two and-a-half months since then and he’s doing well now. He’s making progress day-by-day.”
Paulsen said he found out about his friend’s accident almost one year ago and had been growing the beard ever since. Everyday activities–including eating and looking at his own reflection–have dramatically changed with his summer shear.
“The first couple days when I was walking around the house, I’d walk past a mirror and do a double-take,” he said, still shaking his head. “I didn’t recognize myself.”
The worst part about shaving: “When I’m contemplating, there’s nothing there to pick at and help my thought process.”
The best part(s) about shaving: “I got a lot of food stuck in there. My wife hated it. When we’d go out, she would have to kind of clean me up. It was gross. It got really gross, man. Towards the end, just to eat dinner, I’d have to tie it up just so it didn’t end up full of food. It was really rough there for a bit.”
When Paulsen watched his friend’s video, he shaved for the first time in a year and was surprised at how sensitive his skin underneath had become. Ever the supportive spouse, Kelly Paulsen stood by her man’s beard, but celebrated the shave process.
“She cried when I shaved. She was happy–she was so happy,” he said. “Moving forward, I don’t think I’ll ever grow it that long again. I can say I did it, but there’s nothing to motivate me to do it again.”
That’s not to say that we will see a baby-faced No. 82 on the gridiron.
Paulsen admitted that he will likely have “some” facial hair this season, seeing as things “including personal appearance go by the wayside during football season.”
At least he can save on his shampoo bill.
“I was really using a lot of shampoo between the long hair on top and my face,” he said. “I use Garnier Fructis. It has a semi-masculine bottle so I can bring it in the locker room. It’s not like Herbal Essences that’s covered in flowers and all kinds of stuff. You can’t be doing that. You have to save face somehow.”
And now he can shave face as well.
But don’t despair, beard lovers, Logan’s beard will live on in his 2013 roster headshot: