Mascot Madness

In Philadelphia, police are investigating a complaint that “Gritty” — the mascot of the Flyers hockey team — punched a 13-year-old kid after a photo shoot last year.

hi-res-999ed1323129c7ca5ddd46c81d3a67c4_crop_northThe kid’s father claims that after the kid patted “Gritty” on top of his furry orange head, the bug-eyed creature took a running start and punched the kid in the back, leaving a bruise.  The Flyers say that they conducted an investigation and concluded that “Gritty” did nothing wrong and there was no evidence to support the assault claim.

I suppose one could argue that the combination of circumstances — the fact that the incident allegedly happened in Philadelphia, where sports fans are notorious, involved a goggle-eyed mascot named “Gritty” for a team playing a sport where dropping the gloves and taking a few swings is an accepted part of the game, and a franchise that recently unveiled a “rage room” to allow frustrated fans, and “Gritty,” blow off steam by wrecking various household items — should be factored into the investigation, but clearly we need to let normal police investigative techniques take their course.

The more important lesson here is that all anthropomorphic mascots should be given as wide a berth as possible, whether they are found at a hockey game, a ballpark, or an amusement park.  Unless you’re a “furrie” — that is, somebody who gets his or her jollies wearing a fuzzy or hairy costume depicting some kind of character — being a mascot would be one of the worst jobs imaginable.  You’re stuck in a hot, probably smelly costume with inadequate breathing capabilities, you’ve got the heavy burden of engaging in “zany” behavior at all times, and the fans around you undoubtedly aren’t respecting your personal space in any way.  Pats on the head, and for that matter kicks in the behind, are probably a regular occurrence.

I’m guessing that, in the professional mascot world, “Gritty” isn’t alone in wanting to use a “rage room” now and then.

Welcome, Brownie!

Today the Cleveland Browns introduced a new, live-action mascot.  He is “Brownie, the Elf.”

IMG_5012A little elf has been a part of the Browns for as long as I can remember.  He’s usually pictured holding a football, wearing elfin shoes and an elfin hat and a self-satisfied smile on his face.  I’ve always like the little pointy-eared elf.  For a time, years ago, there was an effort to put the elf on the Browns helmets, but they decided to stick with the classic, plain orange helmets instead.

When the Browns came back into the NFL, and marketing requirements dictated that they have a mascot, they surprisingly did not go with the elf.  Instead, picking up on the “Dawgs” persona first developed during the ’80s, they introduced a large, upright dog wearing a uniform.  His name is “Chomps.”  I think Chomps sucks.  He’s a generic, fuzzy mascot that could be the mascot for virtually any major or minor league team.

So, I was happy when I saw “Brownie, the Elf” today.  And, not coincidentally, the Browns actually played like a football team today.  It was a pleasure to sit in a cheering stadium and watch the Browns grind down the Cincinnati Bengals on a 90-yard drive in the fourth quarter to put the game away.  It’s one of the best games the Browns have played against a quality opponent in years.  Even the presence of Chomps didn’t ruin the day.

I’m giving the credit for today’s win to the team, of course, but also to Brownie, the Elf.  The more the Browns get back to their roots, the better off they will be.