The only question this raises for me is why don't more public figures grow obnoxiously long beards? I have never seen a (sober) professional athlete casually meandering down the street with his shirt off and jeans unbuttoned before, but I wasn't the least bit surprised when I saw that Joe Thornton was doing it. That's a credit to one thing and one thing only - his beard. Seriously, you grow your facial hair damn near down to your nipples and people just presume you are a wildcard. If Joe Thornton did this when he was still shaving bi-weekly I would assume he was hammered, but now that he's got a fucking nest on his face I just assume that he was hot. Nothing to see here, just beard guys doing beard guy things. Couple of the most accomplished players in the NHL taking a stroll around a hockey town doing weird shit and somehow deflecting attention because people just accept that they do weird shit because of how they look.
If Jumbo Joe and Burnsy have proved anything it's that grooming yourself sets the bar way too high. People start expecting you to be dressed appropriately enough for a Dunkin' Donuts at all times and who wants to bear that cross? I'm somehow more stunned by Brent Burns having his shirt on than Joe Thornton having his shirt off, and that speaks to how much you can get away with when you decide to save about $1,000 a year on razors.
Right or wrong, it would be more newsworthy if Joe Thornton - a professional hockey player - was walking around the streets of Pittsburgh wearing a button-down shirt tucked into a pair of slacks? Exactly. That's a hell of a (non)precedent to set for yourself and I am confused to why more people in the public eye don't do it. Think about it. People thought Mel Gibson was a raging alcoholic and an antisemitic piece of trash. Then he grew a mane and people still thought he was raging alcoholic and an antisemitic piece of trash but they stopped talking about it as much because his beard was proof positive that he didn't give a fuck what anyone thought about his hate filled rants. Joe Thornton could walk right past me with a confederate flag tied off around his waist and a Donald Trump tramp stamp that was spelled wrong and I would just shrug my shoulders and keep it moving. Not that he would, but I would imagine there are quite a few mentally unstable famous people that wouldn't mind having that freedom.
P.S. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around Joe Thornton being a 6'4, 220 pound grown man that competes at a high level athletically without having a chest. Truly remarkable.