Pittsburgh Steelers shave payroll, cut DE Brett Keisel

Scott Brown, NFLNation:
Brett Keisel is one of the last survivors from the defenses that led the Steelers to a pair of Super Bowls in a four-season span and served as a bridge to the dynastic teams that won four world championships from 1974-79. The 2002 seventh-round draft pick developed into one of the better 3-4 ends in the NFL and thrived, despite playing a position that doesn't get a lot of glory while on a defense brimming with star power.

Keisel became beloved by fans as much for his steady play as for the persona that started when he grew a beard thick enough to catch Steelers' owner Dan Rooney's attention. It happened in 2010, when Keisel decided to stop shaving while the Steelers made their run to a third Super Bowl in six seasons.

What started as a publicity stunt has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "Da Beard" has been a monthly event since 2011. One event raised $250,000 in which celebrities helped cut Brett's beard. The Pittsburgh Steelers saved $1.5 million on the salary cap in releasing Keisel.

Brett Keisel was selected in the seventh round with the 242nd pick out of BYU in the 2002 draft. After 13 years, he leaves as one of the most beloved Steelers' of all-time. 408 total tackles, 30 sacks and 37 passes defended against, seven forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries and two interceptions are the career numbers. The on-field statistics can be replaced. Finding a replacement for Brett's work in the community will be nearly impossible.

We focus far too often on how much guaranteed money the stars like Darrelle Revis or Devin McCourty will make. We have a tendency to overlook the secondary players, yet they are ones who determine which team "win or loses." Team chemistry comes with a price.

Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire.

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