As if the NFL didn’t have enough brand problems already. Leaving aside the sexism, the mishandling of numerous crises, drugs, player DUIs, drunken fan brawls and oh yeah, that little concussion issue, the league’s mascots haven’t been particularly helpful either.
During Sunday’s game against the Steelers, Jaxson de Ville, the Chester Cheetah-lookalike mascot of the Jacksonville Jaguars, made the ill-advised move of holding up a “Terrible Towel” and a sign that said “towels carry Ebola.” While obviously untrue, biologically-speaking, it’s probably not in the best of taste to poke fun at a disease that is killing thousands in West Africa, and spooking people here. The Jaguars have apologized, but didn’t name names:
“On Sunday, the person who has played Jaxson de Ville over the past 20 seasons made an extremely poor decision in that regard. The team was unaware of this inappropriate sign, which was hand-made by Jaxson during the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game, until after it had been displayed. We are handling the matter internally and taking it very seriously. We extend our sincerest apologies to anyone who was offended.”
ESPN has reported that the name of the man behind the mask is Curtis Dvorak, and he can take cold comfort in the fact that he’s got plenty of company. Organized sports has no shortage of mascot meltdowns. Here’s the Digiday top five:
Chaddy the Owl
The problem exists in soccer, too: Across the pond in 2003, the Oldham mascot apparently attacked the Bloomfield Bear of Blackpool, pulling off his boots and throwing them away. It’s not the first time the U.K. has seen mascot-on-mascot violence: In 2001, Cyril the Swan ripped off the head of a rival mascot (Millwall’s Zampa the Lion) and threw it into the crowd.
The San Diego Chicken
In 2008, things took a fowl turn with a popular but ill-advised gag routine: the San Diego Chicken engaged in a dance-off with Barney the dinosaur, then proceeded to tackle him. Barney creators sued for copyright infringement but lost.
The Stanford University Tree
The California university’s unofficial mascot was taken off the job after she was seen drinking during a game in 2006. Points for ingenuity: the tree reportedly took the drinks “inside” the tree. At halftime, the student was given a breathalyzer test, then cited for public drunkenness.
The Oregon Duck
In 2007, the Oregon Duck was suspended for flipping out and kicking the butt of the Houston Cougar in what appeared to be a not-entirely-unprovoked attack. “Puddles,” as he is known, got angry when the Cougar started doing pushups, a move generally done by the Ducks, after Houston scored.
The unfortunately-named mascot of the Jacksonville Sharks reportedly fought with a fan in 2012 and tried to hit him with a cake. The team’s “Director of Excitement” was suspended for one game. Best of all: this happened on Fan Appreciation Night.
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