Photos: The ten best neckbeards in history versus Andrew Luck

Colts QB Andrew Luck faces a big challenge this weekend, when he faces off against the Broncos' Peyton Manning in PM's first game in Indianapolis since leaving for Denver. But Luck may have an even harder time when it comes to earning a place of honor when it comes to the ten best neckbeards in history.

Yes, young Andrew's got impressive facial hair. But he clearly has a ways to go before he can compare to the all-time greats of neckbeards (and maybe football, too). Count down our top ten below. It's hair-raising!

Number 10: Richard Wagner

The 19th Century German composer is known for dramatic masterworks such as The Ring of the Nibelung -- and his neckbeard was every bit as epic as his music. In this painting, it looks like an animal pelt repurposed as a chin strap. So luxuriant!

Number 9: Peter Cooper

The Wikipedia page for Cooper (1791-1883) lists him as an "American industrialist, inventor, philanthropist and candidate for President of the United States" -- and it's shocking to believe a majority of voters in this great nation didn't want a guy with facial hair like this to lead them. His beard's so bushy that it would probably have worked as a safety device -- like an air bag for the face.

Continue to keep counting down our picks for the ten best neckbeards in history. Number 8: Henry David Thoreau

While author and poet Thoreau (1817-1862) may be best known for Walden, his famous ode to nature, he also penned Civil Disobedience, formally entitled Resistance to Civil Government. He proved pretty resistant to razors, as well. Don't let the man make you shave that neck!

Number 7: Nero

According to legend, this Roman emperor fiddled while Rome burned -- but from the looks of the bust seen here, his neckbeard probably escaped unscathed. You know it must have been magnificent if it even stands out in marble.

Continue to keep counting down our picks for the ten best neckbeards in history. Number 6: William Dennison, Jr.

In addition to serving as the 24th governor of Ohio, Dennison was U.S. Postmaster in the cabinet of America's most famous beard-wearer, Abraham Lincoln. Think he grew his own under-the-chin warmer as a way of sucking up?

Number 5: William Fessenden

Like Dennison, a fellow Lincoln cabinet member, and fellow William, Fessenden, a onetime Senator from Maine turned Treasury Secretary, kept his neckbeard neatly trimmed and classy -- almost stealth if he wore a oversized collar. That way, he'd really impress the ladies when he showed it off at the end of the night.

Continue to keep counting down our picks for the ten best neckbeards in history. Number 4: Francisco Morazán

Born in Honduras circa 1792, Morazán became the first president of the Central American Federation. But perhaps his most notable accomplishment was proving that the neckbeard could go global.

Number 3: Colonel Marshall Howe

Granted, Howe's career during the Civil War doesn't dominate many history books. But he earned a spotlight page on the National Archives website due to a beard that seems to take root on the lower quadrant of his wattle, leaving a bizarre gape along his jawline. Top that, U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee!

Continue to keep counting down our picks for the ten best neckbeards in history. Number 2: John C. Calhoun

He was a U.S. Senator from South Carolina, a Secretary of State, a Secretary of War and a vice president for both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. But we hope he also found room on his crowded résumé for another title: Follicle Juxtaposition Trend Setter, for the way he combined his swept-talk, mad-scientist mop with a neckbeard that looks like a particularly distinguished noose.

Number 1: Horace Greeley

The namesake of Greeley, Colorado (recently named by our Facebook friends as the stinkiest place in the state) also rocked facial hair so fantastic that, in this image, he looks like someone dreamed up by J.R.R. Tolkein. That neckbeard is magical!

More from our Lists & Weirdness archive: "Photos: Top ten stinky Colorado places according to you."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts