Creating a good, crowd-rousing, kid-pleasing mascot is more difficult than it might appear. Some just look too goofy. Others fall into the lowest crevasse in Uncanny Valley and scare the shit out of people. Most Olympic mascots end up being oddly sexual, creepy, scary or all three.
Olympic mascots aren’t the only offenders. Sports history is spackled with a thick trail of terrible mascots. Some are inexplicably still around, like Montreal’s sad fat orange bloop Youppi, or the Pittsburgh Steeler’s Village People cosplay/tribute to blue collar encephalitis Steely McBeam. But others are no longer with us. Here are some of the most memorable bad mascots.
The current mascot for the University of Oregon Ducks is a cuddly-looking duck named Puddles. He looks like Donald Duck had sex with someone from Eugene. Not very creative, but also not objectionable. In other words, a world away from an earlier, polarising Oregon mascot: The monstrosity commonly known as Roboduck.
Roboduck’s official name is Mandrake, and he was introduced in 2002 to confusion and horror. Roboduck does not look like Donald Duck humped anything. Instead, it looks like a Power Ranger fucked a furry. Roboduck looks like the world’s stupidest superhero costume. That is probably why his stint only lasted until 2003. Now Oregon officials say they lost the costume, which is a cute way of not admitting that they burned it.
The Yankees are not a quirky baseball team. They are intimidating, rich, humourless winners, the finance bros of the sports world. But they have some kitschy skeletons among the trophies in their closet, including Dandy, an inscrutably terrible mascot commissioned in 1979 and retired in 1981.
I guess whoever gave the orders told the designers that the theme was “pear-shaped gingers with bad hygiene” because there is no other explanation for this.
The San Francisco Giants trolled fans with this gigantic bug-eyed crustacean. To be fair, the Giants made their mascot bad on purpose, so the fact that Crazy Crab looks like an absurd foam nightmare creature is a testament to a goal executed successfully. Unfortunately, Crazy Crab’s tenure coincided with a huge losing streak that made Giants management re-think whether introducing an ironic mascot was a good idea. People didn’t need another reason to boo.
Th Philadelphia 76ers’ urban bunny was a late-1990s marketing misfire that tried way too hard to be hip (hop). It looked like a cross between that horrible Donnie Darko rabbit and Eminem.
The 76ers got rid of their weirdly muscular mascot by saying he got MARRIED and moved away. Likely story, that bun-bun was a virgin and everyone knew it.
Boomer the Cannon
The Columbus Blue Jackets found out the hard way that it’s not a good idea to make your mascot look like a rigid grey penis.
Chief Illiniwick was a racist embarrassment, so naturally it only took the University of Illinois 81 years to retire him. (In 2007!)
At least the Atlanta Braves kiboshed their awful mascot in 1986, years before University of Illinois. But wait: They got rid of Chief Noc-a-Homa after a dispute over job performance and pay with Levi Walker, the Native American man who worked as the mascot.
I’m assuming there are literally hundreds of other racists dead mascots you guys know about, plus many more just plain bizarre failures. What did I miss?