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The Philadelphia Flyers, an ostensibly respectable National Hockey League team, have unveiled a new mascot.

His name is Gritty, and he’s anything but respectable. Truly, he’s pretty terrifying. He looks like the offspring of some dollar-store stuffed lion seduced by an alien from Mars Attacks. Like a strung-out gym teacher’s bad joke after a weekend bender. Like a muppet who’s seen things you people wouldn’t believe.

Some of that appears to be on purpose. Per the NHL’s gnomic “backstory”:

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.

He claims that he’s been around for a lot longer than we know it, and recent construction at the Wells Fargo Center disturbed his secret hideout forcing him to show his face publicly for the first time. He has some oddities that are both humorous and strange. A number of times he’s been caught eating snow straight from the Zamboni machine, and unbeknown to most, his love of hot dogs has been inflating the Flyers Dollar Dog Night consumption totals for years.

That being said, there’s no denying that he’s one of our own.

There’s a lot to unpack here, beginning with the double entendre in the first line.

Did Gritty grow up in an abusive home, or is he the improbable lovechild of Bobby Clarke and a Zamboni driver? Or both? What does lore have to do with his incredibly obvious name? Where is Gritty’s mother and WHY DON’T WE EVER MENTION THE MOTHER?

Look at this googly-eyed nightmare doofus. Look at the this cruise ship magician’s prop. LOOK AT HIM.

As for being “one of our own,” good bet that every member of the Broad Street Bullies would have judo-chopped this dude right in his muppetesque mane, just on principle. Fred Shero is rolling in his grave.

Look, we get that the Flyers are trying to create their own Phanatic. But it’s unfortunate that no one stopped to ask if one donut-waisted shaggy carpet monster was enough for this town. Because now we’re stuck with kitschy Hieronymus Bosch detail, this B-movie horror clown, this seven-foot orangehead who sits somewhere between terrifying and a laughingstock, depending on age and sensibility.

Maybe we’ll grow into Gritty — maybe he’ll grow into us. Maybe he’ll reinvent the mascot’s role and serve up rinkside antics unlike any we’ve ever seen. Maybe he’ll kidnap your first born while you’re off re-upping on $8 Bud Lights.

In an alternate sports universe, Gritty could be gender neutral. A gender neutral mascot actually would have been pretty cool. But right now there’s little commendable about Gritty other than he’s neither (a) this obscene cake baby and (b) something your racist uncle dreamed up.

The internet — which is notably fickle and could decide to embrace this bête noire tomorrow — had some harsh takes on the monster.
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Max Marin (he/him) was Billy Penn's investigative reporter from 2018 to 2021. A graduate of Temple University, he has produced award-winning journalism on local politics, criminal justice, immigration...