Colorado History

The Five Best and Five Worst Colorado Mascots

Walliver plans to bring back the one-piece for men. And walruses.
Walliver plans to bring back the one-piece for men. And walruses. Water World

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click to enlarge Dude, stop touching my horn. - COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AT FLICKR
Dude, stop touching my horn.
Colorado State University Alumni Association at Flickr
The Five Worst Colorado Mascots

5. CAM the Ram
CAM is cute, he's a Coloradan...but he's the victim of a couple of bad circumstances. First, CAM will always sit in the looming shadow of Ralphie the Buffalo, since using a live native animal for a mascot was CU Boulder’s thing first (by over a decade), and CSU just rode those coattails. Second — and perhaps more important — you just don’t want to have a mascot name in all caps. Sure, it's sort of clever that it stands for Colorado Agriculture and Mechanical College, but still...only sort of clever.  And in this age of digital communication, all caps means shouting, which is both rude and somehow all the more irritating when it’s a bighorn sheep constantly yelling its own name.

click to enlarge The Big Blue Bear can't wait for Denver Comic Con. - JEFF TURNER AT FLICKR
The Big Blue Bear can't wait for Denver Comic Con.
Jeff Turner at Flickr
4. Big Blue Bear (unofficial mascot for the City of Denver)
The big blue bear peering into the Colorado Convention Center is officially titled “I See What You Mean,” which is why most people just call it the Big Blue Bear. For better or for worse, it's become an icon of Denver, which is fine, because Denver can use all the identifiers it can get as it grows into a metropolitan powerhouse from the Front Range cowtown it once was. The best thing the Big Blue Bear has going for it? It’s not Blucifer.

There's a reason our logo was a yeti foot until 2015. - RICARDO ALMEIDA AT FLICKR
There's a reason our logo was a yeti foot until 2015.
Ricardo Almeida at Flickr
3. Bernie (Colorado Avalanche)
It’s not that Bernie is a bad mascot — he’s cute enough, and then there’s the St. Bernards-save-people-from-Avalanches. (Which is sort of backwards: Rescue dogs aren’t generally rooting for the disasters, right?) But the main complaint that Avs fans have about Bernie is that he’s not Howler, the hirsute yeti mascot that originally cheered on Colorado hockey. Sports fans know better than anyone: You dance with the one that brung you.

click to enlarge Dinger is most popular with fans still too young to know anything about baseball. - JEFFREY BEALL AT FLICKR
Dinger is most popular with fans still too young to know anything about baseball.
Jeffrey Beall at Flickr
2. Dinger the Dinosaur (Colorado Rockies)
Dinger is one of the least favorite mascots in Major League Baseball. We've regularly called for his ouster, and the Denver Post has referred to him (rightly) as “Barney on a meth binge.” Why a dinosaur to represent the Rockies? Because fossils were found in the construction of Coors Field, according to the team. Which is a pretty thin reason. They probably found a lot of things in the excavation, including old bums and old bottles. And when you think of Colorado, does anyone think of chubby, pantsless dinosaurs? Well, thanks to Dinger, they might now.

1. Shagman
Sure, Shaggy is portrayed by an actual actor, but this character has become one of Colorado’s most memorable mascots — and one that has seriously overstayed his welcome. It’s not just the ubiquity of the Shagman on local television; those Rocky's Autos ads have tended toward the not-funny and oddly inappropriate in recent years. It’s time to retire the Shagman and get back to just selling cars.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen