In the rough and tumble world of the National Hockey League, George Parros and Mike Brown have no problem sticking up for a fellow teammate on the ice.
However, for the month of November these two American tough guys stuck up for a new teammate by joining forces with Movember, a global initiative that raises awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.
Parros and Brown decided to go nose to nose in hockey’s first facial hair face off in what became known as the “The Greatest Mo Battle of Them All.” For the month of November, the pair joined more than 1.1 million men by growing out their mustaches to raise money to battle a disease that will affect one in six men in their lifetimes.
“It’s always awesome to help out where you can,” said Parros, who spent most of his career with the Anaheim Ducks before signing a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers in the offseason.
“It’s a great and worthy cause that is something that doesn’t get all of the attention that other charities might. The pink ribbon is everywhere for breast cancer, and we can’t ignore the fact that men have their own cancer problems and issues. The mustache is kind of our ribbon.”
The former Ducks teammates had to get creative to raise awareness for their fundraising campaigns primarily because of the NHL lockout, which banned players and teams from interacting with each other. Thus the birth of “The Greatest Mo Battle of Them All.”
“We figured it would be fun and different and something to gain a little interest during the downtime here,” Parros said. “Brownie and I have been teammates, so we know each other really well. He’s obviously good competition mustache wise and a good guy as well. It couldn’t of worked out better.”
“We kind of turned it into a fun competition this year,” added Brown, who now suits up for the Toronto Maple Leafs. “Everyone’s brains got together and kind of put together everything in a roundabout way.”
Once a Mo Bro registers at Movember.com, he begins the month clean-shaven before spending the rest of the month perfecting the art of moustachery. As men continuously work towards perfecting their ’staches and raising awareness along the way, they’re also joined by the support of women, referred to as Mo Sistas.
Brown, who shaved his iconic beard for a fresh baby-face start on Nov. 1, enjoyed participating in his first Movember after gaining notoriety in Toronto for his Fu Man Chu.
“After being a part of this you kind of get the feeling that this is a great cause,” Brown said. “Just for me to grow a mustache and raise the awareness and raise some money is no problem at all. It was kind of a no-brainer.”
This was Parros’ third year participating in Movember, and he has enjoyed raising money for the foundation over the years.
“Me and Movember were on parallel paths, and it was about time our paths have crossed,” Parros said. “Given the fact that I have gotten so much popularity for my mustache it made sense that we would join forces.”
The money raised by Team Parrosmos, along with the rest of the United States Movember campaign, will support programs run by Movember and its health partners, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG Foundation. Team #Brownbeauts efforts went to support the Movember Foundation and Prostate Cancer Canada.
All told, the 2012 Movember campaign raised a record $113 million globally for men’s health.
“It’s something we need to be aware of and people need to be aware of,” Brown said. “I didn’t know a lot about it before and I didn’t know a lot about the statistics of men’s health.”
Parros, with his straight push-broom 'stache and Team Parrosmos raised $8,330 to defeat Brown and his #Brownbeauts, who chimed in with $7,635.
“I think we both did a great job,” Parros said. “We raised a fair amount of cash by any means. The monetary aspect was great, and I think we got some great pub for it and raised awareness.”
To help out the cause, Brown and Parros recruited a variety of friends, family and other NHL players such as Shawn Thornton ($1,280) and Al Montoya ($550). They also autographed about 300 posters and gave them away to those who donated $50 or more.
“I was pretty excited, but he had me guessing at the last minute,” Parros added. “I had no idea if I was going to win or not. I am glad I pulled it off, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Brown was obviously disappointed in the defeat, and as a consequence of coming up short in the fund-raising competition will have to have to wear an ugly tie of Parros’ choosing for the first game of the NHL’s regular season, whenever that may be.
“I have had guys from near and far that have joined the cause,” Parros said, “and they all are going to benefit when they see Brownie wear something awful come the first game.”