When folks in ancient Greece saw a fellow with a full beard, like the one sported at pre-season training camp by Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards, they assumed this was a virile, masculine man. Romans felt the same way. In ancient India, a long flowing beard symbolized wisdom. The handling and holding of another man's beard was considered an act of disrespect and an invitation to a duel in the Middle Ages. You shouldn't mess with another man's beard. I wonder if Edwards freed the follicles of his face because he heard that cornerbacks in the NFL abide by similar customs.
Beards have historically been such a signifier of badassery that royalty in ancient Egypt would sometimes wear false metal beards just to impress their minions. And, I don't mean metal beard as in a heavy metal beard like guitarist Kim Thayil from Soundgarden but something actually forged from metal and attached to the chin. It was called a postiche and most sarcophagus depict Pharaohs as rocking them.
And, while Alexander the Great and the Macedonians went clean shaven, which sort of squares with what we've all heard about him all and his pretty boy pals, there has been an association with beards and might straight through the from the knights of the Middle Ages to generals in the American Civil War, like Union skipper Ulysses S. Grant, to Baron Davis of the National Basketball Association.
Alexander wanted a clean shaven military to keep enemies from grabbing onto the beards of his men in combat. He felt that such a beardhold could put his soldiers in jeopardy. Same could go for a wide receiver, I guess. However, that did not mean that fierce facial hair was barred from future military ranks. Aside from the proliferation of flowing face locks in the Civil War, the British Navy, for example, allows beards provided they are part of a "full set," meaning a beard with a mustache. Not just one or the other. Should this ball catching thing not work out for Braylon (and, to be fair, the results have been mixed) perhaps there is a future at sea in her Majesty's Navy.