The idea of National Football League mascots roaming around fields on Sundays is, when you really think about it, rather silly. Grown-ups put on furry costumes and interact with fans and even players, all the while clapping their hands without ever speaking a word during games. Some of the mascots don’t even have anything to do with the NFL teams they supposedly represent.
Somebody needs to explain the Kansas City Chiefs using the “KC Wolf” character. What is that about?
The absurdity of the concept aside, it is easy to understand why the majority of NFL franchises utilize mascots. Those characters are beloved by fan bases that pay money for mascots to pose for pictures and even attend functions. Mascots sell merchandise and serve as symbols for clubs, so much so that fans see them as being living logos for franchises.
Here are the top 20 greatest NFL mascots.
20. Sir Purr – Carolina Panthers
A name like “Sir Purr” seems ideal for a character with fierce features, perhaps one that shows his teeth or has a snarl. The actual Carolina mascot is quite the opposite. Sir Purr is an oversized kitty cat, one with bright blue eyes, cute little whiskers and a happy smile. That said, Sir Purr is an inviting mascot for younger fans. He has been the only mascot the club has owned, joining the Panthers for their first NFL season back in 1995.
19. T-Rac – Tennessee Titans
Unlike the majority of NFL franchises, Tennessee does not have an animal or other figure associated with the club’s name. The Titans eventually went with a raccoon to serve as the team’s on-the-field mascot. This isn’t to suggest that the team just chose a random animal for its mascot. The raccoon is the official state animal of Tennessee. T-Rac wears a battle helmet, full armor and he carries a sword, suggesting that he is ready for more than just a football game.
18. Captain Fear – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay football fans likely wish that the Buccaneers had the same intensity as the name of the team’s mascot. The start of the Lovie Smith era at the Bucs has not gone well, as Tampa Bay has been one of the worst sides in the NFL in 2014. Early returns from the current campaign point to the Buccaneers desperately needing an upgrade at quarterback. Tampa Bay fans are eying the upcoming draft class weeks before the arrival of Thanksgiving.
17. Sourdough Sam – San Francisco 49ers
Perhaps the best thing about the mascot of the San Francisco 49ers? He apparently goes by nicknames such as “Samster,” “Sammiester” and “Samarama.” The days of Saturday morning cartoons are a thing of the past, and thus younger San Francisco fans may need Sourdough Sam explained to them by older individuals. I’d like to see Sam featured on 49ers merchandise over the same old “SF” logo that the club has used for years, if for no other reason than to change things up a bit.
16. Rampage – St. Louis Rams
One has to wonder if Rampage would be fine with changing area codes and time zones following the 2014 NFL regular season. Rumors continue to swirl about that the Rams could be leaving St. Louis in 2015, and the obvious city continues to be linked with the club. The Rams played in Los Angeles not too long ago, and it is no secret that the NFL wants a club to call that market home. Either the Rams or the Raiders could relocate to Los Angeles at some point over the next couple of years.
15. Jaxson De Ville – Jacksonville Jaguars
What isn’t there to love about the mascot of the Jacksonville Jaguars? His name is right up there among the best of all of the mascots in pro sports. He rocks a cool pair of sunglasses. Jaxson has had to keep his head held high despite this fact from NFL Network research: “The 1-9 Jaguars are the first team in NFL history to lose 9 of its first 10 games in 3 consecutive seasons.” That is quite the run of mediocrity from a team that is destined to have yet another losing campaign.
14. Steely McBeam – Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh is a rough and tough town, a blue collar city that proudly calls a football team known for winning via ground-and-pound rushing attacks and hard-hitting defenses its own. Steely McBean is meant to represent that, but whether or not he gets the job done is all a matter of opinion. The best trait of the mascot is its distinguished chin, a feature that may or may not be a shout-out to former Pittsburgh head coach and current NFL analyst Bill Cowher.
13. Blitz – Seattle Seahawks
Blitz is a unique mascot in that he gets overshadowed by the fan base of the Seahawks. Seattle fans have earned the nickname “The 12th man” for creating one of the top home-field advantages in all of North American professional sports. Boisterous Seattle fans who attend games turn CenturyLink Field into a living nightmare whenever opposing offenses have possession of the football, to the point that quarterbacks are forced to rely on hand signals when communicating with teammates.
12. Freddie Falcon – Atlanta Falcons
Casual sports fans who don’t passionately follow the Falcons may recognize Freddie from his appearance in a SportsCenter television commercial. Unfortunately for Atlanta fans and for the franchise, Freddie has not brought much good fortune to the Falcons as of late. Atlanta was a top contender for most disappointing team in the NFL in 2013, and that has again been the case this fall. The club could be on the verge of a reset that includes the hiring of a new coaching staff.
11. Who Dey – Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals could have gone one of two ways when choosing a mascot. Cincinnati could have selected a fierce and menacing creature, or the club could have chosen a mascot that features an adorable and approachable face. The Bengals went with the latter, and the mascot works well for the club. His name comes from a saying heard wherever and whenever the Bengals take the field: “Who dey? Who dey? Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?”
10. Billy Buffalo – Buffalo Bills
Billy has had his work cut out for him over the years since being “born” in 2000. The Bills have been unable to overtake the New England Patriots as kings of the AFC East. While the Patriots have had a franchise quarterback in all-time great and future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady, the Bills could once again be searching for a new starting quarterback during the winter of 2015. E.J. Manuel doesn’t appear to be the answer, and he lost his job to Kyle Orton early into the 2014 season.
9. Pat Patriot – New England Patriots
Fans who prefer old school and retro uniforms may not be overly keen on the current version of Pat Patriot. Those people would do well to remember one thing: The Patriots never won anything of merit while sporting that old logo. Pat Patriot has seen plenty of good days since the Patriots took a quarterback named Tom Brady late in a draft. New England won the Super Bowl on three occasions from 2001 through 2004, and the Patriots have been postseason mainstays during the Brady era.
8. Big Red – Arizona Cardinals
Arizona did as well as any team in the league in turning a logo into a walking NFL mascot. Big Red has a striking similarity to the logo that appears on helmets and uniforms of the Cardinals. Arizona fans have not needed the help of a mascot to get fired up for games during the 2014 campaign. The Cardinals are the top pleasant surprise of the season, posting the best record of all NFC teams during the first half of the year. Bruce Arians is once again reminding those in the football world that he is the best coach in the business.
7. Brownie the Elf – Cleveland Browns
Brownie is one of the more polarizing mascots in all of the NFL. Cleveland fans even cannot all agree on how they feel about him. Before the days of the Dawg Pound and fans barking during home games, Brownie served as the old logo of the Browns during the franchise’s first run in Cleveland. The so-called New Browns have resurrected Brownie, and the team also uses their dog mascot Chomps, as well as a live dog named Swagger as a mascot during home games. Swagger made his official NFL debut earlier this year.
6. Rowdy – Dallas Cowboys
The truth of the matter is that the face of Rowdy resembles a character out of a 1960s cartoon that would be shown before a movie. One might expect “America’s Team” to have a strong figure serve as its mascot rather than a wide-eyed face that is sporting a broad smile. Rowdy’s ridiculously oversized cowboy hat works for Dallas, however, and the whole cowboy outfit is fitting for a club of that name. All Rowdy is missing is a horse.
5. Staley the Bear – Chicago Bears
While the Chicago White Sox cannot do so for obvious reasons, one can’t help but wonder if the Chicago Bears and Chicago Blackhawks both shouldn’t adopt a bear as mascots. They may be known more for being “loveable losers” than for anything else, but the Chicago Cubs also happen to be one of the more beloved franchises in North American professional sports. The Bears also have a long history, and Staley the Bear, named after the founder of the club, serves as the face of Chicago football.
4. Poe – Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore professional football was searching for a new identity in the 1990s. The city had received a new team in the relocated Cleveland Browns, and Baltimore was forced by the NFL to start anew following a deal that allowed Cleveland to hold onto the history and legacy of the Browns. Poe and the Ravens have served the city and the franchise rather well over the past two decades. The club has twice won the Super Bowl, something that the Browns have yet to achieve.
3. Ragnar the Viking – Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings do not require the services of a stuffed animal as a mascot. They have a living person representing the club. Joseph Juranitch plays the role of Ragnar, and the actor is a one of a kind NFL mascot in a world filled with stuffed animals and cartoon figures. Imagine if other clubs followed suit and hired actors to appear in person during NFL games. The New York Giants could, for example, use WWE personality The Big Show. I’m sure Big Blue fans would happily pose for pictures with a living and breathing giant of a man.
2. T.D. – Miami Dolphins
No mascot in the NFL has a better name than that belonging to the Miami “Dolphin” that appears during the team’s home contests. The Dolphins unveiled the seven-foot-tall Dolphin as a “free agent” signing in the summer of 1997, and T.D. has been a mainstay at Miami football games ever since. Miami isn’t the only organization fond of the city’s No. 1 dolphin. T.D. was invited to participate in the 2005 Chinese New Year’s Day Parade.
1. Swoop – Philadelphia Eagles
Swoop is everything fans could want from a mascot. The eagle has a menacing look to it that is perfect for a professional football franchise located in the city of Philadelphia. Philly sports fans are known for being some of the roughest and loudest in all of the country. One could easily imagine such individuals turning on a cartoon-esque figure carrying an Eagles flag out onto the field eight Sundays out of the year. That Swoop has a tough look to him helps make the mascot the best in the NFL, one that no Philadelphia fan would be ashamed to call his own.