Mascots are a funny thing. Some people love ’em and others hate them. Some people think that they bring some fun to a game while other people find them to be super annoying. No matter what side of the fence you are on, you will have to admit that Philadelphia probably has the most famous mascots in sports. No, I’m not talking about the Eagles’ Swoop, although he is decent for what he is.
I’m also not talking about whatever mascot the 76ers decided on for that season. Obviously, the Phillie Phanatic is the most famous and most popular mascot in American professional sports. And if you ever lovingly labored as a Phillies fan in the final years of the Vet, chances are you enjoyed the Phanatic more than the team on the field. Five years ago today, the Philadelphia Flyers made their mark with their own mascot. Gritty: love him or hate him, he’s ours.
Yup. It’s been five years. Where has the time gone? I myself didn’t think that the Flyers needed a mascot, but hey, what do I know? Like most Flyers fans, or humans in general, I thought he looked like some kind of murder Muppet. Is he funny? Is he creepy? Is he a mixture of both? To be honest, I had a poster printed up and put it in my history class with this picture. I used the “chiller” font and inscribed the poster with this message: “Did you do all your work or do I have to haunt your nightmares?” I usually put my less-active students near it and it seems to do the trick.
Speaking of the Phanatic, Dave Raymond – the creative genius behind the big green guy – helped design him. Although, according to the Flyers, he’s always been there. He emerged after renovations to the Wells Fargo Center, they released him, and he went public. It also wasn’t long, just one hour, before he made his infamous tweet at the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Instantly, he became a sensation. John Oliver did a segment on him. Stephen Colbert has had him on several times. He’s been on Abbott Elementary. By far, his best appearance was on Conan O’Brien’s show as they revealed the man beneath the costume.
Gritty soon gained a following, especially on Twitter. Besides dancing with the Phanatic at various events, he became a fixture around Philly. During the COVID Bubble, he made an attempt to get to Toronto to cheer the Flyers on. Unfortunately, he went to Toronto, Ohio.
After five seasons, it’s kind of hard to imagine seeing a Flyers game without him there. Much like the Phanatic to Phillies fans in the late 90s, Gritty has been a shining light for Flyers fans going to the Wells Fargo Center and witnessing some uncharacteristically poor hockey over the last few years.
Want your voice heard? Join the Broad Street Buzz team!
Who knows what the next few years will have for the Flyers and Gritty? He’s already outlasted the first mascot, Slapshot – which to be honest with you is far more terrifying than Gritty. When he debuted, I, like many Flyers fans, didn’t know what to think of him. Over time, he worked his way into my heart. I would venture to say that most Philly fans can say the same thing, although there are probably some holdouts. Either way, happy birthday Gritty. Maybe someday you’ll get that bird!