Mondays are typically the most hectic day of the work week. This was no exception for the Philadelphia Flyers who had everyone stop dead in their tracks with the introduction of their new mascot, Gritty.
— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) September 24, 2018
Twitter’s instant reaction to the big reveal of this… thing… was one that most of us would have expected:
— Philadelphia Police Department (@PhillyPolice) September 24, 2018
What… are you?
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) September 24, 2018
People were horrified.
And, of course, in true Philly Twitter fashion, the memes were quick to follow:
— Kyle Klosinski (@KlosinskiKyle) September 24, 2018
After getting roasted on Twitter for the entire afternoon, Gritty was ready to step away from the noise on social and focus on some hockey as the Flyers got ready to take on the Bruins for a preseason game.
While handling the t-shirt cannon (a classic mascot responsibility), Gritty ate it on the ice – thus causing a second wave of social media buzz. In that moment, it seemed like all hope would be lost. How can you come back from getting roasted on social media all day and making a fool of yourself on ice all night?
Well… in a city that loves an underdog, this underdog mascot started to feel some of that classic Brotherly Love.
Wait, I think I love Gritty now. https://t.co/TA28Y2t5QL
— Taryn Hatcher (@TarynNBCS) September 24, 2018
— Matt (Red October) Dennis (@matty_ice720) September 25, 2018
NOTHING HAS BROUGHT ME AS MUCH JOY AS GRITTY
I LOVE U GRITTY!!!!! pic.twitter.com/tDAV5PV6hi
— Eliza Jiménez Cossio (@elizacossio) September 25, 2018
Gritty pulled a dramatic and unprecedented 180 – in the hearts of not only Philadelphians but the entire nation. He found himself on Good Morning America and numerous other national publications.
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) September 25, 2018
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) September 26, 2018
— The Ringer (@ringer) September 26, 2018
In less than 24 hours, we witnessed a unique social media phenomenon: Gritty went from a repulsive and frightening orange knock off of the Phillie Phanatic to a beloved champion of the underdog in all of us.
There are few teams in even fewer cities that could have pulled off what Gritty and the Flyers did this week. Fresh off the heels of the Eagles’ recent Super Bowl win (as an underdog, by the way), the local attitude of “no one likes us, we don’t care” has never been louder and prouder.
With that attitude comes a sense of camaraderie – one on which Gritty was able to effectively capitalize. Philly is at a point in which you can’t just trot out some cutesy new character and expect it to be immediately loved. No – it needs to be representative of us. You need to be a little ugly, have a little bit of an edge, make the occasional ass out of yourself, and – most importantly – pay your dues as an underdog that no one likes.
Incredibly, Gritty and the Flyers were able to check all of those boxes over the course of a day. With social media being the driving force in telling that story. Kudos.