Superstitions are sometimes easy to hide. Michael Jordan wore North Carolina shorts under his Bulls shorts. Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game. Patrick Roy conversed with his posts.

In the 21st century, one particular superstition is blatant: the playoff beard. In the postseason, especially in baseball and hockey, the art of not shaving is part of the modern culture. A lack of facial hair is a playoff surprise.

Luckily, the modern era also provides specialists to help analyze such men. Dr. Allan Peterkin is pognologist (beard scholar), who has written three best-selling books on facial hair. He has been published in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, Men's Halth, GQ and Esquire.

"Men bond around facial hair," Peterkin says. "It's one of the few things guys can do that women can't."

Some credit the New York Islanders dynasty of the 1980s as being pioneers of the playoff beard. Peterkin says there is good reason why this macho superstition has spread.

"The idea of a playoff beard, which has extended beyond hockey to other sports, is that you're in this together," Peterkin says. "You're manifesting your loyalty to your team. It's a real kind of bonding team experience. It's very masculine."

In 2013, the Boston Red Sox provided notable images with beards that drooped a few inches under chins. Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, David Ross and Jared Saltalamacchia took the playoff beard to the next level. Of course, Fenway Park bullpen police officer Steve Horgan had his facial hair eternalized with a bobblehead.

The Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants are not doing too shabby themselves this fall. The Giants had practice two years ago, and for some players, two years before that (There is no Brian Wilson in San Francisco anymore, but Sergio Romo, the closer in the 2012 World Series as well, has done well as a beard replacement).

In the Bronx, the New York Yankees have a history, spearheaded by the late George Steinbrenner, of disallowing players to grow facial hair. Peterkin notes the Yankees are the final remains of a previous error in sports that held athletes to different appearance standards.

"You had to sport an All-American look of healthy rosy red cheeks and stuff like that," Peterkin says. "Facial hair was thought of as kind of dark. Now, it's opened up. The athletes say they're not corporate slaves. They're free to express themselves."

Hypothetically speaking, when ThePostGame asked Peterkin if he would grow hair as a member of the Yankees, he chuckled and considered such a situation.

"I like the freedom," he says. "I think most guys like the freedom to go back and forth and do what they want. I guess it would depend on what the salary was."

Outside of sports, Peterkin, a spokesman for Dove Men+Care Face Range, is currently advocating five notable forms of fall facial hairstyle. The "Stubble" is the trendy, youthful look. The "Mustache" shows a loyalty to facial hair history. The "Full Groomed Beard" shows facial hair confidence. The "Wild and Untamed," displays a lack of care and can be considered the "playing hard to get" of beards. Meanwhile, clean-shaven is not a poor choice of facial hair. It is clean and Peterkin says, "you don't have to break rules to make your point."

Peterkin was a judge at the 2012 National Beard and Mustache Championships in Las Vegas. He resides in Toronto, where he is an associate professor of psychiatry and family medicine at University of Toronto.

Ameer Abdullah is having a special senior season at Nebraska, and the running back's farewell tour has turned him into one of the most celebrated stars in Husker football history.

After a stunning start to the season, which included a game-winning touchdown reception that saved Nebraska from the possibility of a crushing loss to McNeese State, the Cornhuskers athletic department revved up a Heisman campaign for Abdullah, complete with custom-made AA batteries that featured his initials and likeness.

That's not the only way Abdullah is managing to draw attention. As the rain came down in Lincoln earlier this week, students caught Abdullah on campus this week carrying around a pink umbrella:


Abdullah embraced the attention, retweeting several pictures and comments from fans and peers who saw him. This comes just days after Abdullah chose to spend the team's off week enjoying the most unlikely of luxuries: a Nebraska swimming and diving meet.


Not content to win merely the Heisman, Abdullah also wants to win hearts. Although the Heisman thing is not out-of-reach:

For his team's trip to New York to play the Jets, Von Miller made sure to dress the part.

The Denver Broncos LB, who is known for his fashion-forward thinking, rocked a pair of sparkling boots and a bizarre haircut for Sunday's game. After seeing the photos, you may not be surprised to read that neither Miller's shoes nor his hair received positive reviews on Twitter:




One fan took the opportunity to poke fun at Miller's positive marijuana test from 2011:


And if you thought the criticism for his shoes was tough, wait until you see what people said about Miller's hair:







As head-scratching as Miller's outfit was, it managed to avoid the torrent of criticism lobbed at Cam Newton when the Panthers quarterback showed up to a postgame press conference earlier this season in a lavender blazer and leggings.

Miller, who returned to the field this year after tearing his ACL last December, was leading the Broncos on Sunday with four tackles before a hit on Chris Ivory forced Miller to hit the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. Thankfully for everyone involved, Miller cleared concussion protocol and says the reason he had to be taken into the locker room was because he lost a contact lens on the play.

On the season, Miller leads the Broncos with six sacks through five games.

As far as stories go, it's not much of a beginning: One day Matt Shoemaker decided not to trim his beard.

At the time, Shoemaker didn't know where he was headed. Three months later, though, Shoemaker has a mossy mug that would make Sasquatch proud, and fans have embraced his new signature feature. When Shoemaker pitches for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the stadiums is filled with homages to his facial hair, including some wearing their own faux growths.

Shoemaker isn't the first baseball player to grow a lumberjack's beard in recent memory, but he's happy to be a part of the trend.

"I'll be one of the first to say I think it's awesome," Shoemaker said of the popularity of beards in sports. "It's a lot of fun. Like I said, I don't really know why [beards are so popular], but we like to see [the trend] for sure, especially guys who already have beards."

For decades now, athletes have reveled in ways to help themselves stand out against a team backdrop that sometimes obscures individuality. This is most evident in the NBA, where hip hop's influence on basketball spawned an explosion of tattoos among a group of athletes that, up until that point, had remained largely uninked.

The NFL stands at the opposite extreme, having flexed the greatest degree of control over player appearance over the years. And somewhere in the middle is Major League Baseball, where longstanding traditions have occasionally given way to famous exceptions -- and, on occasion, direct challenges to the baseball paradigm.

The emergence of the full beard is not unique to professional sports. Beards have been popular in America for years now. And we're not talking about chinstraps or other well-manicured beards: Today's popular beards are hulking figures, allowed to grow untrammeled for months on end.

Shoemaker is merely one of the more recent beards in pro sports. Before him, Brian Wilson inspired 2010's World Series-winning San Francisco Giants to grow beards worthy of the witness protection program. Meanwhile, NBA star James Harden has a beard so famous it sometimes appears without him on T-shirts and other memorabilia.

But it would be misleading to suggest these athletes are trend-setters in their own right. Wilson may have inspired an acute case of Beardmania in the Bay Area, but neither he nor Shoemaker nor Harden are busy evolving their styles to push baseball fashions forward. If anything, those three individuals are merely the sporting world's representatives of a larger cultural shifts.

It's a story professional sports has seen before.

***

In 1972, Reggie Jackson wore a mustache to Opening Day. Again, not much of a beginning. At least not until you understand that Jackson's upper lip was bold rejection of baseball's unspoken status quo. On that day, Jackson became the first Major League Baseball player since 1914 to play a regular-season game without a freshly shaven face.

In the early 1900s, facial hair was falling out of favor. A Washington Post article from 1909 suggests that facial hair was ushered out of baseball for functionality reasons. Reporting on an incident concerning Giants outfielder Jim O'Rourke, the Post wrote:

"Just as the ball was about to settle in [Hall of Famer Jim] O'Rourke's mitt, he was seen to brush something away from his eyes. It was his long, silky blond mustache, one end of which had been blown into his deep blue orbs by the wind."

The Post also wrote that the error was so alarming to other players that they "couldn't get to a barber quick enough."

In 1914, Philadelphia Athletics catcher Wally Schang became the last baseball player to wear a mustache consistently in Major League Baseball. Other brief facial hair sightings are rumored over the years -- Allen Benson allegedly wore a beard with the Washington Senators for two games in 1934, and Satchel Paige was slow to shave his mustache after the Cleveland Indians bought him from the Negro leagues in 1948 -- but the examples are few and far between.

Then Reggie Jackson came along -- or, more appropriately, then the 1970s came along. By 1972, mustaches and facial hair had become a common feature within America's counter-culture. Whether or not Jackson identified with the movement, he grew a mustache and refused to shave it off -- even when Athletics owner Charles O. Finley requested that he do so.

Finley ultimately changed his tack on the matter and decided to use the mustache as a marketing ploy. He offered every member of the Athletics a $300 bonus to grow a mustache in time for Mustache Night at a regular-season home game. Most of the team complied. Suddenly, the mustache was an MLB trend.

For some of those A's players, including Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers, the mustache became a signature feature that they are still remembered by today. The mustache was ultimately worn by a number of players through Major League Baseball, and the 1970s became famous for the odd facial hair found in professional baseball.

And then, for the next 30 or so years, odd facial hair was more an outlier than a trend in baseball, at least until the late-oughts and the Giants' beard craze. If it seems strange, it shouldn't: such cycles are found in modern society all the time.

***

If one research paper has it right, society is fast approaching "peak beard," and that could affect the facial hair trends seen in professional sports.

The terminology behind "peak beard" is a little more complex -- it's referred to in the academic world as "negative frequency-dependent sexual selection." But the process in action is a little more simple: Rare traits make individuals more distinctive, and distinction is what helps individuals appear more attractive.

Even if the implications of sexual attraction are stripped away, the dynamics are still evident in baseball and other sports: In a sea of clean-shaving faces, the mountain man's beard never goes unnoticed.

That's part of the reason why even retired players like Rollie Fingers have chosen to keep their unique mustaches: for Fingers in particular, the mustache has come to define him. But if everyone else in baseball had started adopting a similar facial hair design, Fingers likely wouldn't have identified so strongly with his mustache, and he might not have retained it decades after his playing days ended.

And that's how the pendulum action of rare traits works: The more people that adopt a certain feature, the less distinctive -- and, therefore, less attractive -- it becomes. "Peak beard" then starts to work backwards, where the population density of beards is so great that it makes a clean-shaving look or other style look more attractive.

Too much beard, basically, dilutes its interest. And that applies not only from a sociological standpoint, but also from a branding perspective in sports. Casual observers of baseball may know of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Brian Wilson even if they don't know his name or follow the sport closely -- they'll recognize his jet-black beard.

The same goes for Harden, who stands out from the rest of the NBA's stars by virtue of his bushy beard.

Call them a fun fashion statement or a personal branding move, or both. But whatever those beards are currently accomplishing now, that would all dissipate if everyone else started joining in.

One exception is when entire teams move to grow out beards together, as the Boston Red Sox did during their World Series-clinching playoff run in 2013. The team chose to grow beards together as a sign of solidarity and camaraderie.

Professional hockey players, meanwhile, have collectively embraced a superstition that says their beards cannot be cut during a Stanley Cup playoff run. But these are temporary, collective decisions that don't reflect how normal social norms affect individual actions.

In larger society, that pendulum swing away from beards is already in action. Researchers behind the "peak beard" study believe the beard craze has already passed its peak, meaning clean-shaven faces are now gaining momentum.

So if you love the thick beards you see everywhere today, enjoy them while you can. They're quietly falling out of favor.

There's already evidence that Matt Shoemaker's free-flowing beard may be living on borrowed time.

"[My wife] actually prefers me with a beard, but I will say she likes a nice, trimmed beard," Shoemaker said. "If she had her preference, she'd pick a nice, trim one."

The LeBron 12 from Nike will be released Oct. 11 for $200 a pair. Featuring new hexagonal Zoom pods on the outsole, the shoe has a look and feel that LeBron helped refine with the design team and the Nike Sports Research Lab.

In addition to the first color of the shoe, Nike has plans for six additional varieties that will be rolled out before Dec. 20. These are not just random colors. Nike actually has a team of people that develop the colors and stories associated with each release. Nike colorist Eugene Rogers explained the process, which is one part art and one part science:

It's been a fun summer for Marcin Gortat.

The Wizards big man drove a tank to his basketball camp in Poland, hung out with a pig at a shopping mall and, most importantly for Washington fans, re-signed with the squad for five years and $60 million.

Gortat is back in the United States and he attended media day Monday with his teammates in Washington. And even though the season is just weeks away, Gortat is still enjoying himself to the fullest. The 30-year-old showed up to camp with a mullet, which he compared to the hairstyle of Viking ruler Ragnar Lodbrok.

Gortat's mohawk, however, paled in comparison to that of teammate Martell Webster. The Wizards swingman came to media day with a 'do that would make Mr. T proud.


"It's two different genres of ‘hawks here," Webster told SBNation. "He's in the ‘Mo' phase, I'm in the ‘Fro' phase. He just started. He's a novice. Give him some time, it'll come around."

Gortat had a more humorous way of comparing the two hairstyles:


Wizards fans should be pleased that Gortat and Webster are on the same page, at least style-wise, because the team will need both men if it wants to build on the success of last season. Webster and Gortat were important cogs as Washington advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05. Gortat had perhaps the most productive season of his career, recording career-highs in games started (80), minutes-per-game (32.8) and assists-per-game (1.7). He averaged a double-double in the playoffs, scoring 13 points and pulling down 10 boards through two series.

As the NBA season nears, the conversation and questions surrounding LeBron James are numerous:

Can he lead the Cavaliers to the Finals in his first year back in Cleveland? How will the Heat play without him? Is the Eastern Conference once again up for grabs?

But until those questions are settled, there's one looming issue that seems to puzzle even James' biggest fans: What is going on with his hair?

A few weeks ago James' hairline looked great -- suspiciously so, some thought.

And now the controversy surrounding James' hair has returned, er, regressed.

James was photographed at Cavaliers practice sans headband, and his hairline looked way different than it did a few weeks ago.


Predictably, James' new (old?) look prompted lots of humorous tweets:







James surely has a lot on his mind, as he is adjusting to a new team in a league that looks very different than it did at this time last year. He and his wife are also expecting a baby girl any day now. So it's safe to say that the four-time MVP has more important things to worry about than his hair.

By Jacques Slade
Kustoo.com

As a sneakerhead in today's world, it has gotten a lot easier to get a pair of shoes from the comfort of your own home. Back before the Internet, you would have to go into a store and try on a pair of shoes, and right then and there, you would know if the shoes would fit or not. Today, with Twitter links, 8 a.m. release times and raffles, trying on a highly coveted shoe is almost impossible.

This often leads to relying on the last time you were in a store and what size you wore at the time. However, Life Hacker is reporting that our feet grow just a little bit as we age and can mean the difference between a bigger size. Check out the video below on sizing and what you can do to make sure you are getting the right size.

It was hard enough for Panthers fans to sit through their team's 37-19 drubbing at the hands of the Steelers on Sunday night, so one can only imagine what they were thinking when they saw what Cam Newton wore to his postgame press conference.

The Pro Bowl quarterback, who was pulled in the third quarter Sunday for his own protection, donned a lavender blazer, leggings and slippers to his media session following his team's loss.




While Newton had a solid game -- he threw for 250 yards and one touchdown -- the fact that his team lost made some question his choice of attire.






The comparisons came fast and furious, with Twitter users throwing out everyone from congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to a character from "The Watchmen" to Batman:




This isn't the first time Newton has worn a questionable outfit to his postgame press conference, but at least in the previous instances of indiscretion he could argue that his clothes were found in the menswear section of the store.

The newest technology in shoes has arrived, sort of.

The company FreakerSneaks has created a custom, Playstation 4-inspired Air Jordan 4 that has its own HDMI port. There's a catch, however, as the HDMI port is just for show.

"I thought it would be funky to add HDMI ports in the heels," Jonny Barry, the creator of the shoes, told DualShockers. "I tried to make them so the shoes would remain wearable. The HDMI ports have no real function, apart from looking cool and they actually come with a custom Jordan HDMI cable that when attached, can act as a type of carry cord for walking around sneaker conventions or something."



The shoes, called "JRDN 4 X PS4," will cost $950. That's more than twice the cost of a Playstation 4. As of now Barry has plans to create only 10 pairs.

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