Sports world reacts to Gritty

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Sept 24, and it sent the city on an emotional rollercoaster over the next few days.

The Flyers released this biography on Monday, detailing the origin story of their new unsettling mascot, Gritty. “Get To Know Gritty: His father was a “bully,” so naturally he has some of those tendencies – talented but feisty, a fierce competitor, known for his agility given his size. He’s loyal but mischievous; the ultimate Flyers fan who loves the orange and black, but is unwelcoming to anyone who opposes his team. Legend has it he earned the name “Gritty” for possessing an attitude so similar to the team he follows.”

Standing seven feet, Gritty is like an orange version of the beloved Philly Phanatic, sans iconic nose, and has full orange mane encircling his terrifying, googly-eyed face. The Flyers haven’t had a mascot since the 1976-77 season, when the previous mascot Slapshot was retired after a single season. Needless to say, Gritty was an unexpected and seemingly unwelcomed arrival in Philadelphia.

Wilkes University students have been reacting all week to this new addition to the Flyers squad. Senior Jerome Hannon said of the new mascot “this abomination is the result of Philly trying to be like Vegas. I would cringe and plot an escape route if I saw this drug-fueled cross between Grimmace and Cousin It coming towards me.”

Not all are that horrified though. Senior Caitlin Klinger thinks “having a mascot is a really great thing for the fans, just like the well beloved Philly Phanatic, but maybe he could have been designed a little better.” Klinger went on to describe her theory on the timing and intentions the Flyers organization had behind this mascot. “I also feel like they knew exactly what they were doing by announcing this mascot at this time because it brought a spotlight onto the city of Philadelphia and became national news almost instantaneously.”

All across social media, Gritty became the big hockey meme of the preseason, and not in a good way. Many refer to him as a drug addicted cousin of the Philly Phanatic, some have called for him to be euthanized and others photoshop him into images likening him to It and even Kim Kardashian.

Not all the reactions are negative. In typical fashion for the residents in the City of Brotherly Love, some Philadelphians have taken to this weird, orange thing and have fallen in love with him. Gritty tattoos have already been etched into the skin of many Philly fans, and despite the fact that he still is quite terrifying to some children (and many adults), the mascot knows how to win over a Philly crowd.

In his first week, Gritty has managed to hit many of the right buttons to sway Philly fans to his side. Even before his first game Gritty was doling out savage responses to his haters on Twitter, including a veiled threat to the Pittsburgh Penguins, telling them to “Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird.” In his first game, Gritty found a way not only to fall on the ice like any first time mascot, but his “bully” side came out later when he shot a worker on the ice in the back with his T-shirt launcher.

At the Thursday night game vs. the New York Rangers, Gritty dumped an entire bag of popcorn on top of a fan wearing a Rangers jersey. The new mascot made it clear that Philly is Flyers country and that enemy fans will be dealt with accordingly.

It’s not just in Philly that Gritty has been making waves. After Philly took their collective questioning of just exactly what Gritty was, so did the nation. And that is all it took for Philly fans to come to their new mascot’s defense. As Twitter user @BroadStreetHockey described the day after Gritty was unveiled: “Philadelphia 24 hours ago: ‘What is this abomination of a mascot? What were they thinking?’ Philadelphia now: ‘I would take a bullet for Gritty.’”

In typical Philly fashion, the fans came to the defense of their own. The new mascot may be criticized by the fans, but they are the only ones allowed to do it.

        After the game last Thursday, Gritty even made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Gritty crashed Fallon and special guest Ricky Gervais’s jam session of Boyz II Men’s “Motown Philly” and picked a fight with Gervais in true Philly fashion.

        It remains to be seen how well Gritty will fare this season, but Philadelphia sure will have its hands full with their new orange, fuzzy friend.