The Top 25 Pro Sports Mascot Power Rankings
Let's be real—power-ranking sports mascots is a slippery slope. What makes a mascot great is as much about the audience as it is about the franchise it symbolizes. This list is simply one way of looking at a bunch of people dressed insanely.
The reason power-ranking sports mascots is such a subjective exercise is that the difference between awesome and awful is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe you love funky birds and I just want to gaze into the frozen stare of baseball with a face.
The point is: My list is not necessarily your list; and that's okay. You can find greatness in "cute" or the hilariously bizarre. Mascot love is best left undefined.
These are the top 25 pro mascots in sports right now.
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
In January 2014, Rays mascot, the not-so-cleverly named “Raymond,” was among the nominees for the most prestigious award in mascots, "Most Awesome Mascot," awarded by the Cartoon Network annually since 2011. Obviously the whole thing was rigged, though, because Raymond ended up losing out to L.A. Kings mascot Bailey.
After all, Raymond isn’t just a mascot, he’s an “interactive, improvisational, sports comedian,” per his mentor. In 2013, a Buzzfeed community member called him the best in the biz and made a pretty convincing case. Although he’s been known to cross the line every now and again, Raymond remains a fan favorite in Tampa, having danced his way into fans' hearts long ago.
Team: Los Angeles Kings
Even though many maintain Raymond was robbed, a decision has been made to respect the "Most Awesome Mascot" vote from 2014, which went to Bailey of the Los Angeles Kings. In recent years, he’s gained a well-earned reputation as a rabble-rouser, having made headlines for his shenanigans on more than one occasion.
Last November, Bailey found himself in some hot water after publicly mocking Ducks players battling the mumps. Two weeks later, he reignited a feud with former WWE superstar CM Punk. Most recently Bailey took to Twitter to jab at the rival Sharks, remarking that Katy Perry’s Super Bowl sharks were the first to make it to a championship game.
Bailey’s antagonistic nature elevates him to the next level of mascoting—why be cute and cuddly when you can be cold and confrontational?!
Team: Denver Nuggets
Back in 2008, Nuggets mascot Rocky was inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame, which apparently exists, and was named the "Most Awesome Mascot" by Cartoon Network in 2013. He’s obviously doing something right to be so highly (and officially) decorated, which is rare in the mascot game.
Rocky isn’t afraid to go the extra mile in his performances, sometimes to his own detriment. In November 2013, he lost consciousness during a stunt, a scary moment for fans on hand to witness his limp body lowered from the rafters and laid on the floor. This past December, Rocky took a kick to the face from Rockets big man Dwight Howard.
In-game antics aside, off the court Rocky has distinguished himself as a rogue political activist, something else rare in the mascot game! In September 2014, Rocky surprised his bosses in Denver by making an “unsanctioned, unpaid appearance” at a state GOP rally. Even if you don’t agree with his politics, you have to admit that there’s something fundamentally amusing about putting mascots in real-world situations.
Team: Washington Nationals
Mascot: The Presidents
The Nationals' primary mascot is Screech, an uninspired eagle character who loves The Eagles, the song “Fly Like an Eagle,” throwing parties, and subsists mainly on gummy worms and, presumably, booze. (I live in Washington and this entire town runs on alcohol.)
Thankfully Natties fans can fall back on the Racing Presidents, who delight the crowd at home games with their big-headed race during the seventh-inning stretch. The Presidents combine our nation’s rich and storied history with baseball, our beloved national pastime.
Well, that and not actually having to know anything about our nation’s rich and storied history. Perfection personified.
21. Steely McBeam
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Mascot: Steely McBeam
Steelers mascot Steely McBeam is the only mascot to make this list based primarily on awfulness. He’s basically the opposite of everything that makes a good mascot—he’s not cuddly or approachable or well-liked by fans or a part of the team’s history or tradition.
He is, on the other hand, a mockable stereotype of both the city of Pittsburgh and steelworkers themselves. Steely is equal parts terrifying and weird, as demonstrated perfectly in the 2012 “Call Me Maybe” parody song “Call Me Steely.” It’s a voice that will haunt your nightmares forever.
That’s exactly what makes Steely McBeam so amazing—his sheer awfulness. It doesn’t matter whether you love the Steelers or love to hate them, when Steely gets arrested for DUI, you laugh at his misfortune because he’s a creepy weirdo and nobody likes him.
Team: Minnesota Wild
A humanoid creature of unknown (or ambiguous) ancestry, born somewhere in a forest and discovered skating the frozen ponds and lakes of the state known for having a thousand of them? Sign me up! Nordy's origin story sounds more like something out of Marvel Comics than the public relations staff of the Minnesota Wild.
Considering how busy Nordy is—at Wild games, attending children's events and delivering Valentines, among other things—perhaps this amalgamation of...uh...a cat and bear(?) does have superpowers. But if that was the case, I don't think this would have happened.
Nordy may not be the unholy spawn of Superman and Wolverine, but he can party, and that's a good thing. And based on his description as "strong and rugged but huggable and fun loving," a Valentine's Day gift from Nordy might be a cause for concern for the man of the house.
Team: Charlotte Hornets
Don't call it a comeback / I've been here for years! -- LL Cool J, "Mama Said Knock You Out"
Before the Charlotte Hornets became the Charlotte Bobcats and then the Hornets again, an infant wasp named Hugo faced an existential crisis in 1989, when Hurricane Hugo—one of the worst storms on record—devastated the Carolinas. Alas, he survived the fallout of being the mascot of a brand new NBA franchise whose namesake was suddenly associated with wide-scale destruction, but he could not escape the cold hand of market economics.
After a two-year hiatus, when the Hornets became the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013 and Hugo was retired in favor of Pierre the Pelican, Hugo was resurrected by the renamed Charlotte franchise. And I say: Welcome back.
Though the original Hornets were a relatively short-lived franchise, the NBA just didn't seem right without them and those big, cold, dead-wasp eyes and funky colors.
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
When Memphis Grizzlies mascot Grizz isn't cuttin' a rug on the court, he's buzzing around the Empire in the Millennium Falcon. Wait. This isn't a Wookie. Okay, so on his days off, Grizz likes to spend time with his family on Endor. Hold on, Grizz isn't an Ewok? Are you telling me he's a damn grizzly bear?
The Memphis Grizzlies have a mascot that is supposed to be a grizzly bear but looks like a cross between Teen Wolf, Chewbacca and a Shih Tzu; and that's awesome.
He's leanin' on that basketball, and Grizz don't care. When you're a Grizzlies fan, there isn't a lot to cheer for, but Grizz makes it all worth it. Even if his webpage hasn't been updated in almost five years.
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
If a sports mascot isn't a symbolic representation of a place, a group of people or something relevant, then it almost always falls into the category of pure non sequitur. Not every team is located in a place like Michigan, where the logical choice also happens to be the badass choice—like a wolverine—or be represented by something that can proudly strut around around an arena.
Penguins, as in the flightless bird, are definitely not native to Pittsburgh, but Iceburgh definitely feels like a logical choice for any hockey team. Yes, an ice-skating, googly-eyed penguin is in fact a non sequitur, but not in the same visceral way as a condor or shark.
16. Mr. Redlegs
Team: Cincinnati Reds
Mascot: Mr. Redlegs
Great mascots can achieve their status from completely disparate spaces—some may be inherently adorable, like the University of Georgia's "Uga," while others are a great characterization of the team, like the scowling Purdue Pete.
Then there is that less beaten path—that dark place where the line between classically endearing and terrifying isn't so well-defined. In this place, you will find Mr. Redlegs standing silently in the middle of a darkened room; a room lit only by the moonlight bleeding through a single, broken window. And, he's holding his trademark oversized bat.
Mr. Redlegs joined Mr. Red—the "official" Cincinnati mascot—in 2007, with Gapper creating the haunting trifecta. Though Mr. Redlegs is designed to be a kind of exaggerated throwback to the 50's era, the result is hilariously disturbing and why his spot on this list is well-earned.
15. Benny the Bull
Team: Chicago Bulls
Mascot: Benny the Bull
Benny the Bull is a mascot pioneer of sorts; when he debuted for the Chicago Bulls in the 1960s, he was the first NBA mascot to "roam the side lines." So, you can add barrier-breaker to Benny's list of accomplishments, alongside being red and a bipodal cow.
Benny is essentially a Bulls institution (unlike the menacing Big Ben and Benji), performing at 150 events a year. And his "Benny and the Elevators" dunking performance is a pretty awesome spectacle—so much so that he was invited to do it in London and Dubai.
But it wasn't always courtside antics and globe-trotting shenanigans for Benny; in 2004, the team felt his then-portly bovine physique set a bad example for children, and he was forced to slim down.
14. Big Red
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
By the team's own admission, Fredbird was given a "life-long" contract after proving to be so popular—so, Cardinals fans, when Fredbird's production slips and that contract looks like a terrible bet, you know who to blame.
Seriously though, when your club is the model of consistency and championship-caliber baseball, even the mascot is a machine. Beyond the standard crowd-pleasers, like wielding a T-shirt cannon and funky dances, Fredbird does his signature "beaking," which is when he envelopes a fan's head with his...well...beak for photos.
13. Suns Gorilla
Team: Phoenix Suns
Mascot: Phoenix Suns Gorilla
Perhaps no mascot is more real, as in real, than the Phoenix Suns Gorilla. All the dude does is entertain an arena full of fans, doing trampoline-fueled, acrobatic dunks through fire, in costume, but gets unceremoniously canned after kicking a Heat fan at an event. And let's be real, who hasn't wanted to kick a Heat fan at some point in their life?
The Suns didn't even have a mascot for the first 11 seasons the franchise was in existence, so Gorilla was a kind of mascot savior—a savior that's broken bones, knocked out teeth and suffered an assortment of injuries giving the public its medicine. Thankfully, the Gorilla's efforts haven't been in vain, as he was admitted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in 2005.
12. Pirate Parrot
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Mascot: Pirate Parrot
The Pirate Parrot is a mascot playing with house money. In its 1979 debut season, the Parrot cheered on the last Pirates team to win the World Series. And when the Pirates tried to compensate for more recent failures by creating another mascot, Pirate Parrot won by not being the ill-advised Captain Jolly.
Let's be clear: Pirate Parrot is objectively adorable, even if those googly eyes tend to cross.
11. Ragnar the Viking
Team: Minnesota Vikings
Mascot: Ragnar the Viking
Minnesota’s Ragnar the Viking isn’t just the only “human” mascot on this list, he’s the only “human” mascot in professional sports. Non-costumed mascots have been mostly phased out of sports, probably because they tend to be weird and/or creepy—like that goofy dude running around Morgantown with a musket.
This one may be simply a matter of personal taste, but I think Ragnar is a great mascot—way better than his plushy counterpart. Although he may be historically “inaccurate,” Ragnar somehow manages to combine the hair of a crazy person with a fur vest and bare armpits without becoming a completely revolting presence.
10. Jazz Bear
Team: Utah Jazz
Mascot: Jazz Bear
The Utah Jazz Bear has a knack for making mischief and mayhem. Of course, he does all the standard NBA mascot stuff—stunts, skits, trick shots—but the Bear has developed a distinctly confrontational style that tends to get him noticed more than your average mascot.
Although most, if not all, of his run-ins are probably staged to avert potential fan freakouts, Jazz Bear just knows how to sell it. In recent years, his greatest hits include a shouting match with a visiting Cavaliers fan, dumping a bucket of water on a Rockets fan and “accidentally” dropping a birthday cake over a ledge onto “unsuspecting” fans below.
As often as the Bear’s hijinks make headlines, so does the continued debate about whether or not any of it is “real.” Which, as we’ve already covered, it is not. But the fact that people are still asking the question means this dude is doing his job, and doing it well. Jazz Bear is doing way more than that tired, lazy Teen Wolf-inspired costume deserves.
9. Wally the Green Monster
Team: Boston Red Sox
Mascot: Wally the Green Monster
Red Sox mascot Wally the Green Monster hasn’t been around as long as you may think—he made his MLB debut in 1997. He’s long since established himself as, perhaps, the only likable sports fan in Boston. And the fact that he’s apparently hated by “die-hard” Red Sox fans means that he’s definitely doing something right.
Please don’t freak out, Boston fans, it’s a joke! Mostly.
Wally just happens to have a lot of things going for him in the mascot department—things like a creative name, funny high-waisted shorts and a design that was literally kid-approved. Plus he’s starred in a SportsCenter commercial and has attracted the ire of the Phillie Phanatic, again proving he’s doing something right.
Team: Miami Heat
It’s safe to say the Miami Heat aren’t one of the more beloved franchises in professional sports, and that’s putting it mildly. They were easy to hate during the LeBron James era of the "Big Three," and even easier to forget now that he’s gone. Perhaps their one saving grace is their mascot Burnie, a massive basketball and fire-themed monster, who instead of a nose has a basketball, and instead of a mouth has a basketball.
Burnie has been with the team since its inaugural 1988-89 season and has been making lists of the "best," "worst" and "weirdest" mascots in sports ever since. He’s also known for always being on his baddest behavior—Burnie has been sued multiple times, including a $1 million whopper in 1994.
Basically, he’s the only consistently good thing about Miami sports. Sorry Miami, but you know y’all aren’t the most committed bunch.
7. K.C. Wolf
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Mascot: K.C. Wolf
Like most sports teams with names associated with Native Americans, the Chiefs abandoned their former mascot, which was a man riding a horse in a full Indian chief headdress, decades ago. K.C. Wolf, who looks more like a rat than a wolf, was born from a wild bunch of fans at Arrowhead Stadium known as the "Wolfpack" in 1989.
Played by a man named Dan Meers since his inception, K.C. Wolf’s penchant for game-day stunts and tackling field-crashing fans (like this guy, this guy and these guys) has made him one of the most buzzed-about mascots in professional sports. In fact, he was the first NFL mascot inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame, a member of its inaugural class in 2006.
Though after more than 20 years on the job, K.C.’s future in K.C. was suddenly put in jeopardy after a faulty bungee cord during a zip-line stunt resulted in the hospitalization of Meers in November 2013. Thankfully a settlement was eventually reached, putting Meers back on the job the following August.
No doubt a tremendous relief for Chiefs fans, who have come to rely on their old-timey Chuck E. Cheese look-alike to soften the blow of their continued postseason failures.
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Mascot: Racing Sausages
Unlike the Nationals, who hit a pop-up fly with Screech, the Brewers actually have a pretty solid official mascot with Bernie Brewer. But they’re batting .1000 in Milwaukee with those legendary Famous Racing Sausages, which were stuffed into casings and let loose in the form of a cartoon on the scoreboard in the early '90s.
Very popular among the hometown fans, the virtual race eventually gave way to a real-life competition during the seventh-inning stretch—the Great Pierogi Race in Pittsburgh and the Racing Presidents in Washington were both inspired by these sassy sausages. And we do mean sassy, which is obviously the best way to describe the infamous caper known as "Sausagegate."
5. Mr. Met
Team: New York Mets
Mascot: Mr. Met
Poor Mr. Met. You’d never know it to look at the perma-smile on his baseball dome, but as one of the oldest mascots in MLB, this guy has endured a lot of suffering since making his debut in 1964. The Mets have enjoyed sporadic success over the years, but no more than one or two seasons per decade interrupting long stretches of abject futility.
Truth is, Mr. Met is a bigger star than most players on their roster in a given season. He’s one of the most popular mascots in sports, which may be why he occasionally attracts the ire of other mascots—in March 2014, the Royals mascot, Sluggerrr, chided Mr. Met about sleeping with his wife after he joined Twitter.
Can’t blame the guy for being jealous of Mr. Met, who is often seen hobnobbing with celebrities and was profiled by Rolling Stone last August.
Team: Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens mascot Youppi! (the exclamation mark is part of his name) has only been entertaining the crowd at Habs games since 2005, but his history with sports fans in Quebec actually dates back over 30 years. Youppi! was the mascot of the Montreal Expos from 1979 until the team left for Washington following the 2004 season.
According to his official bio, Youppi! is a pioneer of sorts, as the first official mascot in the Canadiens' near-century of existence. He’s also the first to “ever work in two professional sport’s leagues.”
After three decades in the Canadian spotlight, in June 2014 Youppi! made his presence known in the U.S. by challenging Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon to a playoff bet. When the Habs fell to the Rangers, Youppi! had to mope around Montreal all day in a New York jersey. Fallon aired part of the video on the show, making it an instant viral sensation.
3. The Raptor
Team: Toronto Raptors
Mascot: The Raptors
The Raptors mascot puts most of his furry brethren to shame with his physical displays and home-game hijinks, which were, until recently, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise perpetually grim basketball situation in Toronto. The Raptor is a certified superstar, with countless videos on YouTube already and more being added all the time.
In November 2014, he was challenged by Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard, and their on-court showdown became an international story. It wasn’t the first time the Raptor generated headlines—in October 2013, he blew out his Achilles, which was arguably the biggest story of the NBA preseason that year.
Following his injury, Grantland did a surprisingly substantive in-depth piece about the Raptor’s significant impact on the fan experience, as well as his reputation among the league’s other mascots. Less than six months later, the Raptor made his triumphant return, and it was the most important thing that happened in Canada that day.
2. Jaxson De Ville
Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
Mascot: Jaxson De Ville
The Jaguars might be one of the worst franchises in American professional sports today, but their mascot, Jaxson De Ville, is definitely elite. The same man has played Jaxson throughout his entire existence as “The Self-Proclaimed Best Mascot in Sports.”
Although there’s been the occasional ill-advised Ebola joke in his career, Jaxson has spent most of his tenure in Jacksonville hanging from a cord dangling in the sky—like one cut cord away from splattering into a golden puddle with black spots on the ground.
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Much like the people of Philadelphia themselves, the Phillies Phanatic isn’t always particularly pretty to look at. He also isn’t the nicest furry in any room—in fact, the Phanatic is known as the most-sued mascot in sports—but at least he’s honest.
Wanna know exactly what that green horn-nosed freak show is thinking? Well, just take a look at him. The Phanatic isn’t complicated, but he is hilarious and the most likely to engage in behavior that could induce a lawsuit. What’s not to love?