There's nothing wrong with most sports mascots that a shot of Febreze wouldn't cure, but a rogue few have soiled more than just their costumes.
Drunk with the adoration of the crowd, and probably alcohol, here are some fur-suited performers who betrayed the trust of their fans and took to a tragic and/or hilarious life of crime.
The Miami Heat's mascot is Burnie, some kind of sentient hellbeast made of fire with a green basketball for a nose. So what was his crime? Arson? Please let it be arson.
Aggravated Assault. Shit.
Wes Lockart, as Burnie, decided a female fan would enjoy it if he grabbed her by the legs and dragged her onto the court at an exhibition game. Really, what can go wrong with that? It's all in fun, right?
Well, it turns out the woman wasn't amused, and it also turned out she was Yvonne Gil Bonar de Rebollo, the wife of a local Supreme Court justice. He was, not surprisingly, equally unamused.
Burnie was charged with aggravated assault and battery (although the aggravated part is unclear--maybe because being assaulted by a costumed mascot is extra humiliating). The pair sued for--wait for it-- one million dollars.
She was eventually awarded $50,000, which fortunately for her the team has to pay, since it's hard to imagine someone working as a sports mascot having 50 grand on hand at any given time.
We've lumped together Reedy Rip-It (of the Greenville, SC Drive baseball team) and Slapshot (of the New Jersey Devils hockey team) because they have something in common: thinking that mascots are rock stars and the fans are sex-starved groupies, all anxious for some furry action.
Please God, let me touch a boob today.
Groping Female Fans at the Game.
Reedy Rip-It, AKA Cecil Amick was arrested after groping a woman in the most charming of locales: under the stands. After charges were filed it came to light that not only did Amick have a record, but he previously performed as the University of South Carolina's Cocky. You bet he did.
The Drive were quick to point out that Amick was merely a Rip-It understudy, so we can be thankful that he didn't go on the power trip that a bigger head might have created.
Slapshot (played by an unnamed performer) took it even further, going on an all-out grab-fest. The hockey mascot, who dressed like a puck, racked up three official complaints from disgruntled gropees before getting the sack. The Devils retired the now-creepy character and today have a much-less threatening mascot: the actual devil.
Benny the Bull, mischievous monobrowed mascot of the Chicago Bulls, is one of the most popular mascots in the business. He likes to give something back to the fans on occasion, whether they want him to or not.
Thus he decided to bestow his greatness on the Taste of Chicago event in 2006, a festival where the city's finest restaurants serve visitors from around the world. Benny selflessly took it upon himself to entertain the masses by riding through the crowd on his mini-motorcycle. It's important to note that no one had asked him to do this, as Benny had apparently decided on his own that even the fanciest gathering could be improved by a costumed man zipping around the guests on a tiny motorbike.
When a security guard showed up to tell Benny to knock it off, Benny refused, and continued riding around the grounds. A slow-speed chase ensued. When the guard caught up to Benny (who must have mistaken him for paparazzi), he clocked him in the face, knocking his glasses off.
When the guard turned out to be an off-duty police officer, Benny portrayer Barry Anderson maintained that he was "in character" when he hit the guy. Nothing puts a gourmet food-tasting event over the top like a good "in character" cop beating, right? Not surprisingly, the "it wasn't me, it was my anthropomorphic bull alter ego" defense failed, and Anderson was charged.
The Grump, played by Jay Hastings, worked for a minor league baseball team (the Scranton/Wilkes Barr Red Barons). The Grump is a muppet-like green creature who, no matter who's inside, dresses like a pervert: ill-fitting jersey, cheap sneakers, no pants. He also looks suspiciously like Andy Rooney.
Soliciting Sex on the Internet from a police decoy posing as a boy.
Unfortunately for Hastings, spending your evenings doing the Macarena at the ballpark means missing out on crucial episodes of Dateline. After his arrest, it was discovered that Hastings used the Yankees van as his hookup-mobile, much to the chagrin of the Yankees (the Red Barons are Yankees affiliates).
Once arrested, the part-time Grump (The Yankees want to make it very clear that he was not a fully vested Grump) had a whole pile of charges dropped on him from previous encounters, all of them yucky. Hastings was sentenced to 11-27 years in prison.
The Pirate Parrot has been the mascot for the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team since 1979, which by sheer coincidence happens to be when cocaine use was reaching its peak both in the USA and in major league baseball.
Cocaine Peddling. OK, so maybe it wasn't a coincidence.
In 1985, several players for the Pirates became implicated in a drug scandal that led to the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. Big names like Keith Hernandez, Lonnie Smith and Tim Raines testified before a grand jury about how rampant coke use had become among players (Hernandez guesstimated that 40% of major league players were on cocaine). Tim Raines testified that he kept a vial of coke in his uniform pocket, making sure to only slide headfirst so he wouldn't break it.
Where did they get all that blow? From a dude in a big, fluffy parrot costume. Kevin Koch, who portrayed the Parrot when the shit went down, admitted to both using cocaine and to relaying the drugs to the team. Koch is rumored to have stashed the cocaine in his oversized beak during the games (we couldn't make that up) which makes us wonder if a strong sneeze would have sent a cloud of the stuff into the crowd.
Koch escaped prosecution by cooperating with the FBI, agreeing to wear a wire which we're assuming he also hid in his beak. And thus the Pirate Parrot, presumably in full parrot costume, got the goods on his drug supplier, who we like to imagine looked and talked exactly like Tony Montana from Scarface.
Koch was stripped of his feathers and was no longer allowed to act as the Pirates' mascot. We're guessing he wasn't going to put that job on his resume anyway.
Ramses, of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, is one of the oldest mascots still in use. When the Bighorn Ram mascot first appeared in 1924, guys were still going to football games wearing Jughead hats and big fur coats, saying "23 skiddoo" and drinking gin out of a bathtub. Eighty years later, the longstanding tradition would take a turn for the bizarre when a kid named Pablo took his place as Rameses, forever changing mascot history.
Patricide. You read that right. Pablo achieved something in common with the most monumental characters of great literature --Oedipus and Lex Luthor-- when he murdered his own father.
The body was found by workers on a farm the two shared in Carrboro, NC. What's extra-shocking is that no one seemed bothered by Pablo taking over at games as Rameses XVIII, even though he was the one who had dispatched the elderly Rameses XVII. He just appeared at the game in the giant blue antlers and the crowd went wild. Anybody who didn't read the news didn't even notice the switch.
Dude, who are we to judge?
What's even more shocking is that Pablo was only eight years old.
Okay, Pablo is an actual Bighorn Ram. Rameses is one of the few live mascots still on the field.
We probably should have mentioned that earlier, but it's too late now. Besides, if we held Ramses to the same standard as human mascots, he'd have been kicked off the team years ago for the whole constantly-pooping-on-the-field thing.
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