On Monday morning, the Philadelphia Flyers dropped a bomb the likes of which no one saw coming. In front of a slew of children at the Please Touch Museum, the Flyers introduced the National Hockey League’s newest mascot named Gritty, a seven-foot, orange, fuzzy creature with a gyrating stomach and googly eyes, who has a backstory that has to do with causing mischief while workers remodel the Wells Fargo Center. And yes, Gritty looks like he could be the older brother of former Flyers forward Scott Hartnell.
As one of only two teams in the National Hockey League – the other being the New York Rangers – without a mascot last season, the franchise teased a video last week hinting at the possibility of unveiling a new mascot, though there was no real warning it would come this week. If Gritty reminds you a little of the Philadelphia Phillies’ mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, that’s because her was the brainchild of Raymond Entertainment – Dave Raymond was the first Phanatic. Gritty is the first mascot for the team since Slapshot lasted one season in 1976. Apparently, it took almost two years to come up with Gritty, but it only took the internet a few minutes to voice their displeasure with the creature.
In a matter of minutes after the unveiling, folks from Philadelphia, and some from across the country, were all over social media voicing their displeasure about Gritty. Some, like the Flyers’ cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, made fun of the team and the new mascot, while other began to crack some pretty hilarious jokes. Honestly, for at least two hours, it was the most fun Philadelphia Twitter had been since the whole Bryan Colangelo burner account fiasco earlier this year. But then something happened – something even more bizarre than Gritty himself. With Gritty already the top trending story in the City of Brotherly Love because of the amount of venom being spewed by Flyers fans, a few people – and media outlets – stepped up and admitted their love for the new mascot. All of a sudden, there began this dumbfounding shift and within just a few hours it seemed as though there was this faction of people who loved Gritty and were in full support of the orange blob, almost as though it became the cool, hipster-like thing to do. Still, it was mostly just Flyers fans, as the world wasn’t full aware of Gritty and his appearance.
And then it happened. Comedian and Philadelphia native Paul F. Tompkins strung together several amusing tweets supporting Gritty and, just like that, the world was completely made aware of this ugly, nightmarish looking thing. Even more than eight hours later, Gritty remained one of Philadelphia’s trending topics on Twitter, with Time Magazine doing a feature for its website, while outlets like Jezebel and Deadspin showed some serious love for Gritty. He’s been photoshopped into every meme possible, inserted into many of those old Chuck Norris jokes and users have started to make him their new avatar photo. I can only assume that there’s much more coming as well.
You’re goddamn right I’m following Gritty. https://t.co/vFbcpklbPO
— Paul F. Tompkins (@PFTompkins) September 24, 2018
Honestly, Gritty is stupid and I would like it to just go away.
I understand appealing to the younger demographic but the franchise hasn’t had a mascot for almost its entire existence, why start now? The Flyers are the laughingstock of the league right now, with a mascot that’s likely to scare most children and looks like a knock-off of the Phanatic. I know, people probably said the exact same thing when the Phanatic was unveiled back in the 1970s. While a majority of Flyers fans do loathe Gritty, it seems cool to hop on board and enjoy the fuzzball, though these might be the same people that keep constantly doing the Rick Flair “woo” at games – if you’re not familiar just go back and watch any Flyers home game from last season. I cannot condone this behavior.
There’s little arguing the Flyers have gotten a ton of press from this move. It should be noted that Gritty made his first appearance at the Wells Fargo Center this evening as the Flyers took on the Boston Bruins in a preseason contest. According to one tweeter, there were more adults waiting in line to meet him than children. And so, a legend is born.