Column: New Philly Flyers’ mascot ‘Gritty’ is more fearsome than friendly


(Illustration by Sylvia Freeman | Staff Illustrator)

By Michael Nitti, Staff Writer

Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees rank among the most terrifying characters of all time. But the newest face of horror is more chilling than all three, and he’s not a movie antagonist — he’s a hockey team mascot.

With the month of October upon us, it’s officially the season of scaries. To kick off the festivities, the Philadelphia Flyers mistakenly thought it would be a good idea to unveil a new mascot — Gritty.

Coming in at roughly 7-feet tall and seemingly 300 pounds, Gritty is more than just an eyesore — he’s a blight on the brain. Nobody’s sure what animal or interdimensional being he’s supposed to be, but we can all agree he’s ugly.

He sports shaggy orange hair with a long orange beard, as well as orange fur covering him from head to toe. Gritty’s absence of a nose and his wide, creepy smile are both unsettling. But undoubtedly the most frightening thing about Gritty is his orange googly eyes.

Have you ever made eye contact with someone and felt like you just looked deep into the soul of a psychopath? That’s Gritty. Googly eyes are supposed to be fun — something kids laugh at and include in macaroni art — but when you mix them with the other ghastly components of this monster of a mascot, the eyes suddenly give off evil intentions.

The Phillie Phanatic is objectively one of the best mascots in professional sports. He’s a furry, green, flightless bird with an extendable tongue that fans of all ages adore. Gritty might try to embody the same traits as the Phanatic in terms of his goofiness, but there is no getting past the pure eeriness of his face.

A local Twitter account called “Benstonium” posted a thread of stock images into which he photoshopped the new Flyers mascot —  and to say they are chilling is an understatement. The pictures depict Gritty in the background of several environments — a public park, a foggy forest and an ajar window — menacingly watching over unsuspecting bystanders. It’s bad enough he’ll be in a sports stadium — the terror of contemplating his monstrous form elsewhere is downright terrifying.

Would you ever want your kids to come close to this menace? Gritty looks like someone you would find passed out in a Philadelphia alleyway the morning after the Eagles won the Super Bowl. You might not be scarred for life upon spotting him (though no one can blame you if you are) but you will without a doubt choose to walk in the opposite direction.

It didn’t take long for Gritty to make an enemy within the Metropolitan Division — in just his first day on the job, he got into a spat with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Twitter last Monday. To be fair, the Penguins did start the altercation. But Gritty escalated the beef to new levels with an ominous threat toward the Pittsburgh mascot.

Gritty is making threats online, already cyberbullying others of his kind. It’s been only a week and he has quickly proven to be a bad influence. With the number of young people using social media constantly growing, that leaves more and more kids to take after Gritty by threatening each other over the internet — and possibly deciding oodles of orange hair all over their body is stylish.

It’s only a matter of time before the league offices for the NHL step in and stop this maniac. As families and friends make their way to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia this season to watch their beloved Flyers take the ice, they’ll likely be greeted by this orange weirdo and faint from shock before they even get to their seats.

When you go to any game and see the mascot, you might want to take a picture with them for the memories. However, the only memories you’ll have with Gritty will be in your nightmares, and it’s likely that most of the pictures Gritty will ever be in will be mugshots. Stay safe, Flyer fans.