NFL’s Obsession With Animal Mascots Revealed
There is no doubt that the NFL has a fascination with animal mascots. The major league sport has come an exceptionally long way since its foundation a century ago, and one thing that has changed since the NFL’s early days is the marketing that goes on both behind the scenes and publicly to help each team connect with their local communities and potential fan base. Mascots have been one of the most effective ways for franchises to reach out to their communities and build bonds.
Mascots have a history in American Football that predates the NFL, with college football’s mascots proving just as, if not more, memorable than NFL teams’ due to their relationships and connections to the colleges they represent. In the NFL, some mascots have also become caricatures that represent important periods of history, like the New England Patriots’ Pat Patriot who is dressed as a patriot of the American Revolution. Similarly, the San Francisco 49ers’ Sourdough Sam is a caricature of the man who sought riches at the height of California’s “Gold Rush”.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are many NFL franchises that have sought to align themselves with the personality and spirit of animals. Let’s take a look at the most powerful and awe-inspiring animal mascots that will soon be lining the touchline for this year’s NFL season.
Poe the Raven – Baltimore Ravens
Poe is the Raven mascot named after the iconic Baltimore author Edgar Allan Poe. Initially, Poe was joined by two other ravens called Edgar and Allan, as an even greater nod towards Baltimore’s much cherished writer and former resident.
Edgar and Allan were retired at the end of the 2008 season however, to be replaced by two real live ravens in the shape of “Rise” and “Conquer”. Poe includes a “stately Raven” in his famous 1845 poem, which the Baltimore NFL franchise eventually used for their team name. Ravens are not only considered one of the most intelligent animals, they are highly adaptable too and have very few predators, ensuring that they can live for almost two decades in the wild. Like the animal, Baltimore Ravens look like they have few predators in the NFL 2020 season given that they are the sportsbooks’ favorites to win this year’s Super Bowl.
Thunder II – Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos have two mascots – Miles, an anthropomorphic creature that’s half-man, half-horse, and Thunder II a majestic grey Arabian horse. Thunder typically leads the Broncos onto the field at the beginning of each home game and will gallop from one end of the field to the other whenever the Broncos score. Having held the mascot role since 1993, Thunder has appeared in three different guises. The original Thunder AKA “Thunder Sr.” was heralded as being a bold and courageous animal, underlining the mental attributes required by the football team on the field. The latest Thunder II has even appeared at the Super Bowl 50.
T-Rac the Raccoon – Tennessee Titans
The arrival of T-Rac onto the scene as mascot of the Tennessee Titans makes perfect sense. T-Rac is a raccoon, which has long been known as the state animal of Tennessee. T-Rac is typically at the touchline of every Titans home game and engages brilliantly with the Nissan Stadium crowd. Outside of matchday, T-Rac plays an important part in the state’s communities, appearing at events and Play60 programs wherever possible. In 1971, the raccoon was named the state’s wild animal, as they tend to live in and around the various rivers and streams throughout the state.
Jaxson de Ville the Jaguar – Jacksonville Jaguars
Last but by no means least, Florida’s Jacksonville Jaguars are led by their anthropomorphic jaguar mascot known as Jaxson de Ville. Most Jaguars fans will know him as “Jax”. He’s something of a cool dude on the touchline, wearing sunglasses and a Jacksonville jersey. Jax is famed for his interaction with the crowd and his random antics – the fans never know what he’s going to do next. As many of our readers will know, a jaguar symbolizes ferociousness and power – the epitome of aggression. It’s this kind of spirit that the Jacksonville franchise attempts to embody during the gruelling 14-game NFL season.
There are several other animal mascots too, but this quartet are certainly four of the most memorable animal symbols within the world of gridiron today.