News broke last week that Arsenal, the stacked-with-talent but notoriously disappointing English soccer team, is laying off Gunnersaurus, its beloved mascot.
Jerry Quy, the man inside the herbivorous costume for the mascot's entire 27-year existence, found out on October 5 that he was getting axed by the franchise, which is owned by Stan Kroenke, Colorado's most prolific sports-team owner.
Luckily for Gunnersaurus and his fans, star Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil has publicly committed to pay Quy's salary for the remainder of Ozil's time with Arsenal. But what of Kroenke's other mascots? Particularly here in Colorado?
Westword hasn't heard back from the Avalanche, Rapids or Nuggets regarding the fate of the mascots for these Kroenke-owned teams. But if Bernie, RapidMan or Rocky were to get the ax, it would be a terrible blow for sports fans in an already cruel 2020.
Without a doubt, Bernie is the cutest mascot west of the Mississippi. Part of a litter of five puppies born in Summit County, according to Bernie's official NHL description, he delights fans young and old, posing for photos with even the most fair-weather of Avs fans.
"True to his breed, Bernie is devoted to his team as a symbol of integrity, strength and loyalty. Beware of drool, it is unavoidable. He is a gentle giant amongst the community for all ages," reads the NHL post.
And then there's RapidMan, who retired in 2008 and largely withdrew from public life, finally making a triumphant return this past March. "Remarkably, RapidMan hasn’t changed a bit — the cool, crisp Rocky Mountain air is doing him wonders. He’s kept up his rigorous gym routine and is still jacked as ever," the Rapids pronounced in an announcement of his return.
Just one problem: Major League Soccer hasn't had many fans in the stands since play restarted amid the pandemic, so few have enjoyed RapidMan's jacked antics, much less wondered whether RapidMan is a character from Osmosis Jones or a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman.
But Rocky, arguably the greatest mascot in the world, still continues to draw crowds. During the NBA bubble's regular season and playoffs, Rocky sat in as a virtual Zoom fan, hanging out in the stands with regular folks as they all took in the Nuggets' remarkable run to the Western Conference Finals. Just seeing Rocky there brought joy to the Nuggets faithful.
A common refrain among the talking heads of Nuggets media is that the team needs to keep its talented core of young players together and continue to building from that base. While that's definitely the right path forward, the core would be incomplete without Rocky — the steady, insanely acrobatic veteran leader who has guided the team through both the good and the bad for decades.
Kroenke Sports and Entertainment needs to keep its Colorado mascots, particularly Rocky. They can't go the way of the dinosaur.