6 NFL Mascots That Need to Be Replaced
Hey football fans, as I'm sure you've noticed, the season is over. There is still one month to go before free agency, more than two months to go before the draft, and training camp is still more than five months away.
But before we decide to over-analyze the latest misconstrued LeBron James soundbite or start thinking about what chances [insert favorite MLB team] has at winning the World Series this year, let's have a little bit of fun.
Mascots are the epitome of fun, especially in the NFL. These overgrown cartoon characters help to inspire morale in the fans and also serve as a tool for NFL teams to connect to their communities at events both during the season and the offseason.
The men who don these costumes are men I salute: it takes a lot of guts to dress up like the creation of what the modern-day Don Draper considers to be "cool" and pull off acrobatic stunts in costumes that on the inside are about 30 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature outside (which on the hottest September days can approach the 90s with 80 percent humidity).
But some of the costumes themselves? All I can say is wow! What mad scientist thought of these?
We're going to be looking at six NFL mascots and why it might be a good idea to perhaps give them a makeover or junk them altogether. Let's have some fun poking fun at some ideas that were clearly made purely for the amusement of children, yet manage to look like the manifestation of their nightmares.
T.D. (Miami Dolphins)
I'm a Dolphins fan, probably the biggest one out there, and even I think this looks ridiculous.
T.D. (which stands for touchdown--I'll give you some time to guffaw at that one) made his debut in 1997 with the back story going that he was signed by Jimmy Johnson, thus making him Johnson's second biggest bust to sign with the Dolphins between John Avery and Yatil Green.
However he's not the first mascot in Miami Dolphins history. That honor goes to Flipper--yes TV's Flipper--who resided in a Dolphin tank on the east end of the Orange Bowl in the team's first two years of existence and did tricks after Miami scored.
Flipper was removed due to high costs.
T.D. is the stuff of nightmares. Take a look at the behavior of Dolphins, like infanticide or the fact that they kill porpoises for reasons not known (I'll go with "because they can"), and you will see that Dolphins are actually scary animals (especially if you're a menstruating woman) and all of a sudden the idea of a bipedal dolphin that lives on land crosses the line of cute and adorable and becomes quite frightening.
Let's get back to the lightheartedness and just look at how ridiculous this thing looks. Why would anyone think that this is a good idea?
Where's Ray Finkle when you absolutely need him most?
Captain Fear (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The Buccaneers have the potential for a great mascot just based off of the fact that they're Buccaneers.
With the pirate ship in the end zone, you could have a whole crew of pirates in and around the ship going around the stadium to interact with the fans. Some of them can channel their inner Johnny Depp and be as wacky or cartoony as they please.
There is no reason to put a human being into a ridiculous costume with a big phony head where they will sweat like there's no tomorrow. Remember, this is Tampa, it gets hot and humid...especially in the summer.
Yet the Buccaneers choose to go the route of the big phony head. Not only does the poor guy in the costume have to suffer inside their suits during those oppressively hot September afternoons, but the costume looks pretty ridiculous to boot.
You don't need a ridiculous mask or body suit for a mascot like this to work! Buccaneers are young pirates, who of course are human beings! A guy that's merely dressed like a pirate works fine in this instance.
Hell, just find someone who dressed up as Jack Sparrow for Halloween in the past and you won't even have to spend money on the costume!
Jaxon De Ville (Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Jaguars could've had a great mascot here. Reason being is their sister-expansion team the Carolina Panthers have a great mascot. When you consider that both teams are named after big ferocious cats, that usually means they are likely to have a great mascot.
However while the Panthers just made their mascot a black cat and called it a day, the Jaguars decided to get cute with their over-sized kitty.
Where do we start? How about with the sunglasses. OK, I get it, he's in Jacksonville, which is in Florida, which is the Sunshine State! That would mean he needs the sunglasses. Gotcha!
Then there's the color scheme. I know the Jaguars uniforms are teal. They always have been. Their namesake has leopard prints that are somewhat gold in color with black spots.
So to compromise, Jaxon's skin is neon day-glow yellow with teal spots.
Hey, I think I've seen this before: yes, Jaxon looks like he came directly from an early-90's "Red Ribbon Week" coloring book colored in by a fourth-grader who wanted to color the jaguar like this because "it looked pretty."
And the sunglasses aren't for keeping the Florida sunshine out of his eye, it's to make him look "cool" since that's what these kids are into nowadays.
All that's missing is the backwards baseball cap and he's set! Jaxon de Ville says "drug free is the way to be!"
Billy Buffalo (Buffalo Bills)
Somewhere, Paul Bunyan is looking for his ox "Babe." If you see him, point him in the direction of Buffalo, N.Y. The Bills have kidnapped her and re-named her "Billy Buffalo."
Billy looks, well, I don't really know how to put it into words. I mean I understand the blue is to match up with the color of the Bills' logo, but there can be a such thing as too blue--especially since he's wearing the jersey already!
Then here's a historical fact to look at: the Buffalo Bills last made the playoffs in 1999. Billy Buffalo made his debut in 2000.
In that time, the Bills have changed players numerous times and have had five different head coaches.
Only two things have remained constant: owner Ralph Wilson, who's already had success with the team, and Billy Buffalo.
Bills fans, I have found your big blue problem! No playoffs since Billy took over the Bills' sidelines. Get rid of him, and you'll be back atop the AFC East in no time!
Steely McBeam (Pittsburgh Steelers)
I know that The Simpsons have had 500 episodes and I haven't seen all of them, so I'm assuming that I missed the one that had Bill Cowher on as their special guest that inspired this, um, thing.
That's the only explanation I could think of as to why the Steelers have this mascot.
A team as storied as the Steelers doesn't need a mascot: six Lombardi trophies will do just fine as a representation of your team.
However, I guess someone who has the ear of Dan Rooney had to go and convince him that "We need to make the connection with the kids in our community" so a mascot was commissioned.
But why does Steely McBeam (wow, even the name is a horrible pun) have to look like a bad Simpsons caricature of Bill Cowher?
Yellow skin? You're the Pittsburgh Steelers, not the Springfield Steelers.
I will say this, the homage to Cowher with the big chin is a good one, and a dodged bullet: it could've very easily been Jay Leno with the wrong artist.
Still, terrible mascot for a team that should have known better.
Boltman (San Diego Chargers)
Oh dear God, what is that? MOMMY! I'm scared.
Seriously, between Boltman and the Ryan Leaf draft pick, was everyone in charge of the Chargers in the 90's on some kind of drugs or something, because this is the very manifestation of every child's nightmare everywhere.
First off, it's a huge lightning bolt. OK, I'll give the Chargers this: their logo is a lightning bolt, and their other nickname is the Bolts. fine. I'll give them that.
But this thing looks like something that Vince Russo would've rejected while he was running WCW. You have an overly muscular lightning bolt with well-defined pecs and abs. It looks like a bad gene-splicing experiment using Hulk Hogan's genes with a lightning bolt.
Either that or someone has been getting into the leftover PED's from Shawne Merriman's locker. Either way, um, seriously, what the hell.
However, I should mention that's what Boltman looked like in 1998 when he was the official mascot of the Chargers.
He no longer serves in that role but can still be seen at games. He also looks a bit better, but still just as ridiculous, especially with that really creepy Donny Osmond-esque smile.
Honorable Mentions/Mascots I Do Like
There are some mascots that were bad but not quite bad enough to crack the list.
T-Rac: The mascot of the Tennessee Titans, T-Rac is a raccoon, the state animal of Tennessee. I like the homage to the home state, until you remember that nobody really likes raccoons.
Rampage: The St. Louis Rams' mascot has a very clever name, however his horns look more like Princess Leia's hairdo then the horns of a vicious ram.
Blue: The Colts mascot looks like Eeyore's long-lost cousin. With the season the Colts had in 2011, Eeyore might have been the better choice.
However, some mascots are good ones.
Staley Da Bear of the Chicago Bears looks adorable enough to be kid-friendly yet not too ridiculous to put-off the older fanbase. Also the fact that it's name is Staley--an homage to the Bears' first incarnation as the Decatur Staleys--is a nice historical touch.
I'm also quite partial to K.C. Wolf of the Kansas City Chiefs. Much like Staley it's adorable enough to appeal to kids but not too cutesy. Plus it's better to have a wolf (which is an homage to the "wolfpack," a name given to a group of devoted Chiefs fans in the 1960's) than had they gone the route of a possibly offensive Native American caricature.
Poe of the Baltimore Ravens is another favorite of mines if for no other reason than the fact that he's named after Edgar Allan Poe. Great homage to one of Baltimore's favorite sons, much like the name of the team.
Then finally you have Chomps, the mascot of the Cleveland Browns. You could really go anyway possible if you were to give the Browns a mascot, but to make it a dog (in homage to the Dawg Pound) is a great homage to your fans.
Finally, I give props to the New York Giants, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders. Those teams don't have mascots. Most of the time as seen with this list, no mascot is often the best option.
Plus with the Raiders, their fans fill the role of mascot quite well. With the Jets, a mascot would be pointless because Fireman Ed would still be more popular amongst their fans (and for good reason, he's a real human being that you can identify with).
Hope you had fun as we looked at NFL mascots that have to go; may we now return to our mock drafts, combine reports and trade speculations.