Mascots are the crazy uncle of sports. You’ll always love them, but sometimes they creep you out a little bit. Here’s my list of the creepiest mascots in sports.
#18: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
The Hilltopper. Look at that smile. He’ll gobble you whole. Imagine arriving upon a hilltop and this dude is just sitting there having a picnic. I’m walking my ass back down the hill.
#17: Utah Jazz Bear
When he ditches the sunglasses, the Utah Jazz Bear looks possessed. His eyes are super close together. He also has a motorcycle, so you can run, but you won’t get far.
#16: Cyril the Swan (Swansea in the English Premier League)
This one’s personal for me. Canadian geese harass and attack me many mornings in the parking lot of the Rams’ practice facility in Earth City, MO. They don’t have arms or teeth so I’m not sure what they could actually do to me, but they scare the shit out of me.
#15: Illinois Valley Central High School Grey Ghosts
Grey ghost? Does that mean they’re not actually invisible? That kind of defeats the purpose of ghosting, but I respect it.
#14: The Washington Nationals’ Thomas Jefferson mascot
I’m from Charlottesville, VA, and I’ve never toured Jefferson’s former home, Monticello. If his ghost looks anything like this mascot, a visit isn’t looking likely.
#13: Poca High School Poca Dots
A pepperoni that looks like it’s passing a kidney stone.
#12: Saint Louis University Billikens
As a St. Louis Ram, I’ve just gotta say: sorry, St. Louis. But what is a Billiken? It looks like someone cut his nose completely off, and the mouth looks drawn on by a drunk guy. If I find myself in an empty parking garage late at night and there’s a Billiken by the elevator, I’m peeling out.
#11: UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs
[University Board of Directors Meeting]
[Grateful Dead playing]
Boardmember #1: [raises pipe and inhales foreign substance] What about… Banana Slugs?
#10: New Jersey Devil
The lone hockey mascot to make the list, the Prince of Darkness. Think SportsCenter elevator commercial. Enough said.
#9: Delta State Fighting Okra
Are those boxing gloves? I guess if you’re a lanky piece of okra, you have to defend yourself a lot. The okra haters are out there. Respect to the Fighting Okra mascot for staying true to itself in this world of conformity and groupthink. The mascot looks like it’s permanently taking that one last picture before it hits the alley to rip some heaters.
#8: New Orleans King Cake Baby
The King Cake Baby mascot is an adult-size Benjamin Button-looking naked toddler. Its face looks 32, but its teeth are a year old. What’s up with the air brushed bib? What are those awkward forehead wrinkles about? So many questions, so little time to get the hell away from this man-child.
#7: Oregon Ducks’ Mandrake (aka Roboduck)
This is what scary mascots will look like in the future. I’m not a big fan of humanoid ducks. I don’t trust things that quack and also have hands. This thing looks unpredictable and full of sudden movements. Futuristic creepy.
#6: Wichita State Shockers
A yellow gumby with an evil grin and a Lloyd Christmas haircut. And what is so damn funny? That grin is hiding something…
#5: The Cal Bear
An old guy with with a sweater and no pants? Wide eyes and a little cap? This isn’t a mascot. This is a walking parole violation.
#4: Oklahoma State Cowboys’ Pistol Pete
Pistol Pete is creepy because he’s just realistic enough to be believable, but his lack of expression will weird you out like a visit to a wax museum. The most unsettling thing to me is his Vaseline face. Stadium lighting only makes it worse.
#3: Providence Friars
This dude takes the cake for the creepiest humanoid mascot. He’s definitely gone under the knife, which is exceptionally curious because he lives in a monastery. I feel like he and Purdue Pete were cut from the same cloth, but the Friar’s expression gives him the edge on the creepiness scale.
#2: New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans’ new mascot is a combination of several classic fears rolled into one: part circus performer, part bird, part birthday party clown. All three are cool with me individually (except the clown, now that I think of it), but when you combine them, it’s the epitome of nightmare juice. The Pelican is hands-down the scariest NBA mascot, and nearly the scariest in all of sports.
#1: Southern Illinois Salukis
A Saluki reminds me of the terror dogs that showed up in Sigourney Weaver’s fridge in Ghostbusters. It’s no wonder the Salukis are leading the NCAA this year in CCT (Caused Crying Toddlers) percentage.
Here’s the conversation I imagine they had when Southern Illinois was choosing a mascot.
[University Board of Directors sitting around a table]
Boardmember #1: “This is a pretty big decision. Maybe it would be smart to hire mascot design consultant?”
Boardmember #2: “Actually, I’m friends with Stephen King. Let’s just give him free rein and hope for the best. What could go wrong?”
Just missed the cut: Miami Dolphin, Arizona State Sun Devil, Stanford Tree.
I’m sure there were some omissions. So many mascots, so little time. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter: @JOEL9ONE.