Sirk's Notebook: The Massive Court

Photo courtesy of @MassiveCityFFC
[NOTE: This is a special edition of Sirk’s Notebook. The Vancouver edition will appear later this week.]


Sometimes massive disputes require Massive adjudication. Such is the case with Moffat v. Gaven, a beard imbroglio that has forced the inaugural convening of a judicial entity of unquestionable pedigree: The Massive Court.



During pregame warm-ups on April 21, Houston Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat wandered over with his thick, Scottish beard.

“I grew this just for Eddie Gaven,” Moffat said. “I just wanted to show him how it’s done.”

Those are fighting words in Columbus, where Eddie Gaven’s Beard is revered as a talismanic tangle of rust-colored tufts that brings happiness and good fortune to all it encounters. Moffat held firm, insisting that his beard was much better. And with that, the beard dispute was underway. There could be no turning back.

Moffat posed for an official beard photo. After I snapped the picture, he confidently remarked, “Eddie doesn’t stand a chance.” Informed of Moffat’s claims, Gaven also posed for a beard photo.

The official beard photos are below:

After the game, in which Gaven scored twice for Columbus and Moffat assisted once for Houston in a 2-2 draw, each litigant reviewed the pictures.

“I’ve got to go with Moffat,” Moffat said, oozing with so much confidence that he referred to himself in the third person. “I mean, Eddie’s made a good little effort, and he scored a nice goal tonight, but….neither? Can I change my vote to ‘neither are great photos’ now that you’ve shown me? I’m thinking now maybe I should get rid of it after seeing that photo.”

Too late now. The claims of face-bush superiority had been made. The wheels of justice were already turning.

Meanwhile, as expected, Gaven was magnanimous toward his boastful adversary, even as Moffat got cold feet.

“I agree with Adam that neither photo really looks good,” Gaven said. “I'll call it a draw for now.”

But at that point, it was out of his hands. Moffat v. Gaven would be decided by the courts.



That night, in mostly empty locker room, I submitted the photos for a ruling.

“Those are such close beards,” said Crew rookie Ethan Finlay. “Eddie’s is a little more scraggly. I just love the red. You don’t see it often. I like the red. I think it gives it that little bit extra.”

Crew equipment manager Rusty Wummel was torn. “I’ll tell you what,” he said. “I’d have to give them a tie, honestly.”

Wummel’s non-committal produced an outburst from team operations man Tucker Walther, who blurted, “Why don’t you go (bleeping) work for Houston then?”

After order was restored, Crew trainer Dave Lagow reviewed the photos.

“Oh my!” he said upon soaking up the visuals. “Are we just looking beard? I mean, Eddie is clearly more handsome than Moffat. But if you look at the contour, I think Moffat’s is very well defined. Where Eddie loses it is look at the patch. For me, and I hate to say it, because obviously I’m a Crew guy, but I’ve gotta give it to Moffat.”

In an effort to sway Lagow’s decision, degree of difficulty was brought into the mix. In light of this new line of questioning, Lagow withdrew his verdict and considered the New Jersey vs. Scotland dynamic.

“Because Eddie’s from Jersey,” Lagow said, “his beard should naturally be shaved into a chinstrap and a thin little mustache, and his hair should be spiked. Whereas because Moffat’s Scottish, I think if we held Adam down and shaved him, I think that inside of an hour, he would look like that again. It would take Eddie a whole day to get back to his photo. I hate to do this, but the fact is that Eddie has a hole and Moffat doesn’t, so I have to go with Moffat.”

The decision was deadlocked at 1-1-1, much to the dismay of the onlookers in the courtroom. Tucker was aghast, while Wummel’s assistant, Captain Ron, remarked that “both beards are extravagant, but Eddie has more length.”

Alas, Moffat v. Gaven needed to be kicked up to a higher court. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Lagow agonized over his decision, and Finlay studied the photos so many times that Tucker accused him of “counting every (bleeping) hair in each picture” before making his decision.

But when all was said and done, Moffat and Gaven were entitled to a decision by a jury of their peers. Their mutual peer-base is an exclusive collection of men known as Massive Champions.

And so, out of this necessity, the Massive Court was brought into existence.



In order to convene the Massive Court, I scoured the globe to track down as many Massive Champions from the 2008 Columbus Crew as I could on short notice. The response rate exceeded my wildest expectations, but such is their unwavering commitment to truth and justice. In the case of Moffat v. Gaven, each member of the Massive Court was shown the two official beard photos, and then asked the following questions:

1. Who has the better beard, Gaven or Moffat?
2. Why?

Here are their rulings. We will start with the man who wears the armband on his judge’s robe…

Chief Justice, Frankie Hejduk: “It depends if you like Braveheart!!!’

Well, that wasn’t really a decision. Perhaps, as the captain, all of his teammates’ beards are equal in his eyes. Let’s move on to the other Justices. Surely they will be more decisive.

Andy Gruenebaum: “Eddie Gaven. If you can grow it that thick and not be of Scottish descent, you win. It’s as simple as that. You expect that from Moffat. Eddie’s beard is talent.”

Robbie Rogers: “Both of these guys have strong beards. I feel like if I choose one of them then I am attacking the other’s manhood. Eddie's is pretty red/orange, almost like one of the adidas bibs. And Adam’s looks like he has got some birds nesting in that guy. I'd say Moffat wins just because he has had that beard since he was 14.”

Steven Lenhart: “My vote has to go to Eddie because that beard is probably his only friend. Eddie is kind of a loner, so I imagine him and the beard have some good hang outs.”

Danny O’Rourke: “Gaven, for sure. Eddie Gaven versus anybody in anything, the winner is Eddie Gaven.”

Emmanuel Ekpo: “I think it’s Moffat. It looks really thick and shaggy. It makes him look like Moses from the Bible.”

Alejandro Moreno: “In order to answer your question, I must go back to 2008 and the playoff beards we grew on our way to the championship. Two things stuck for me: How itchy beards can be and how much food Eddie traps in his ginger mane.

“Even though Adam has a natural and thorough growth, Eddie gets my vote. His beard is unkempt, careless, free, irreverent, and – the clincher – undoubtedly ginger. A part of me simply wants Eddie to be in the spotlight because I know he enjoys it thoroughly... not really! It would be fun to see my old roommate try to squirm away from the attention.”

Gino Padula: "I like Eddie's beard better. Moffat looks like he's 55 years old. He looks like my grandfather."

Brian Carroll: “Wow!  Both are excellent beards.  I will have to choose Mr. Gaven's because I think it takes extra confidence to sport a red beard to work.  You just don't see a full red beard much these days and I think it's awesome.”

Brad Evans: “By the way, Sirk autocorrected on my iPhone is Dork. Anyway, I'll keep it short and simple. Chalk one up for Ed because nothing looks good on Eddie, except his beard.”

Jed Zayner: "Better beard in terms of what? Who looks more homeless? That's definitely Eddie Gaven. Which beard looks more like the continuation of a sweater? Then, yes, that's Adam Moffat.

"For one, Eddie looks homeless a lot, so this fits his style. Two, Adam is a very hairy guy. He has a body suit of hair."

Pat Noonan: “I checked out the photos, and as much as I like Adam’s beard, I have to go with Eddie. Reason: not often do you come across a nice ginger beard. Plus, Eddie's so far from tough that it just makes me laugh.”

Jason Garey: “They both win.  Adam wins for the properly styled and trimmed true Scottish beard. Eddie wins for the dirtiest, rattiest, scariest-to-little-children beard, which is a lifetime achievement award for him.”

Stefani Miglioranzi: “First off, I don't know how these two guys are married and how their wives have let this happen. I would have no kids if I had a beard like that because my wife wouldn't go near me. Secondly, both are terrible! So by default, the least terrible beard will win my vote as the best one.

“Adam wins the least terrible beard award by a landslide. Sorry Eddie! Although yours is long, it is still very patchy. Adam is a highlander after all, and William Wallace would be very proud to fight alongside him, especially since swords are not the easiest shaving instruments to use. The only thing Eddie really has going for him is the color. Red Beard evokes great pirate legends, but unless you will rob, plunder and pillage others, it is not befitting. I know Eddie won't do any of those things. He is the kindest person I have ever met!

“So both of you, please shave. I will pay for each of you to go to a barber and have that removed.”

William Hesmer: “Eddie. As for proof of his beard superiority, his one-year-old son, Zach, is already giving his mom a chest rash from his whiskers. Plus, Eddie's my teammate and he's not Scottish.”

Guillermo Barros Schelotto: “I think it is tie. Moffat has more than Eddie, but Gaven's beard is a brand from Columbus Crew.”

Duncan Oughton: “Moffat’s beard would win if you were looking for the beard of a Scottish backwoods Braveheart wannabe. Eddie’s beard would win if you were looking for the beard of a serial killer. I am looking for neither of those two things, so I give it to Eddie because he banged in two goals for the Crew.”



By a voting record of 10-3-4, the esteemed and honorable members of the Massive Court, in the case of Moffat v. Gaven, have overwhelmingly ruled in favor of the defendant. It is hereby affirmed that Edward Gaven has grown the most Massive beard in all the land, including Scotland.

Court is adjourned.

Questions? Comments? Think Chief Justice Hejduk should name his gavel “Eddie Gavel” and put a beard on it? Feel free to write at or via twitter @stevesirk



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