Gritty, the furry Philadelphia Flyers mascot who took the sports world by storm last year, has always played by his own rules. The 7-foot-tall, googly-eyed creature with “bully” tendencies has become famous for tackling the on-ice entertainment during intermission and fighting opposing teams on Twitter.
Now, one family says Gritty took his act too far.
The mascot is under investigation by the Philadelphia police after a family accused him of punching a 13-year-old boy in the back during a fan event in November, the police said Wednesday. “The investigation is active and ongoing,” the department said in a statement.
The costumed character, bright orange with a wild beard and a hockey helmet, was posing for photos with season-ticketholders at the event at the team’s arena, the Wells Fargo Center. The family of Brandon Greenwell, 13, said Brandon patted the mascot on the head after his picture was taken, and Gritty responded by standing up and punching the boy in the back with a running start.
Chris Greenwell, Brandon’s father, said a chiropractor found a week later that Brandon had a back bruise. Chris Greenwell contacted Comcast Spectacor, the company that owns the Flyers, to resolve the issue but filed the police report Dec. 21 because he wasn’t satisfied with the results.
It was not immediately clear Wednesday who had been wearing the Gritty costume.
Chris Greenwell said he did not plan on filing a lawsuit and had not hired a lawyer. He does not plan to renew his season tickets, which he has had since 1997, he said.
“All I wanted them to do was give my son an apology,” Greenwell told the Delaware News Journal. “I wanted his medical bills paid, a couple hundred bucks, and for them to do something special to make up for it.”
The Flyers said in a statement that “we took Mr. Greenwell’s allegations seriously and conducted a thorough investigation that found nothing to support this claim.”
The NHL is on its All-Star break, and the Flyers do not have another home game until Feb. 1.
For decades, the Flyers were one of the few NHL teams that did not have a mascot. Gritty was introduced at the start of the 2018 season and immediately became a sensation on the internet and on late-night television. Philadelphians and players around the league embraced him, and Gritty costumes were in high demand for Halloween last year.