On Monday, Sept. 24, the Philadelphia Flyers announced their new mascot: a seven foot tall, orange creature that goes by the name of Gritty.
The creator of Gritty, David Raymond, who also created the city’s baseball mascot the Phillie Phanatic, designed Gritty to resemble the character Sully from the Pixar film “Monsters Inc.”
The reaction to Gritty has been mixed, as many people are not sure what to make of this new mascot. The character looks a lot like the Muppet Animal, with a crazed expression on its face.
Although Gritty looks, well, gritty, the character has been endorsed by the Phillie Phanatic. Tom Burgoyne, the man who has worn the costume of the Phanatic for the last three decades, said “I actually think it’s really cool looking, and kids are going to think he’s really cool. I particularly like that they’ve given him a beard, because so many Flyers players have beards.”
Due to Gritty’s striking appearance, the new mascot has been a hit on social media. As is common for many mascots, Gritty has been granted its own official Twitter account, and some of the tweets have garnered a lot of attention.
One of the most memorable moments from Gritty’s twitter account is an interaction with Flyers rivals’, the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a tweet from Gritty with a picture of the mascot gained notoriety, the Penguins’ retweeted the picture of Gritty with the comment: “lol ok.” Gritty, amid social media attention, responded: “Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird.”
Gritty’s social media presence has prompted a slew of memes, many imposing Gritty’s face onto images from horror movies.
Raymond has said about Gritty’s recent social media fame, “The Flyers wanted something that was tough and soft at the same time … something that’s unique always has flaws. That’s what sets characters up for success, because those are the ones people respond to.”
The final tweet on Monday night from Gritty was a recreation of Kim Kardashian’s famous ‘picture that broke the internet’. Gritty tweeted “Goodnight, internet” accompanied by a picture of the mascot posing with a Gatorade sports bottle, aiming what is presumably champagne into a glass that is balanced on the mascot’s rear end.
While Gritty’s social media antics have gained attention in the last week, the Flyers are hopeful that the mascot’s presence will help connect with younger hockey fans and encourage them to support the Flyers.
Stephanie Farr, a culture writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, told NPR, “Going really weird and almost unsettling was better than going normal and boring. I think that the strangeness is more likely to grow on Philly fans than just keeping it safe.”
Recently, a Colorado-based brewery reaffirmed the appreciation for the strange by using Gritty’s face as the label for one of their newest brews, which has been named the Nightmare Fuel. Gritty’s likeness on the label has been depicted as missing a couple teeth and a little bruised up, in true hockey fashion.
Gritty has also made national news, with a feature on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Although Gritty appears a little off-putting, the mascot is the first that the Philly Flyers have had since 1976.