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The 14 most hilarious and controversial mascots in sports

(Wikipedia)
One cannot understate the importance of a good mascot in professional and college sports. Throughout victories, the mascot will inspire good luck. In times of downfall, the mascot will transform fan disarray into hope, serving as the enthusiastic, furry guide to sports glory. Mascots are cherished additions to a historic sports franchise. Well, for the most part, that is.

Throughout sports history, there have been a select group of mascots so bizarre, so hilarious, and so unforgettable that it's a wonder they've been able to entertain fans for so long without being put back on the bench. Whether you love them or hate them, you can't deny that these mascots are strange but completely entertaining. Here are the 14 most hilarious, strange and dangerous mascots in sports.

San Diego Chicken


For San Diego Padres fans, there are two icons who will forever hold their love and respect: Tony Gwynn and the San Diego Chicken. An innovator in the mascot arts, the San Diego Chicken has become a mainstay at Padres games, and was an early purveyor of rival taunting and on-field antics.


Youppi!



Who is Youppi? What is a Youppi? Why does Youppi exist? For decades, Montreal fans have struggled to answer these questions. But they can't deny that Youppi! is a powerful force in this city's sports landscape. Youppi! originally started off as the mascot for the Montreal Expos baseball team. When they moved to Washington D.C. to become the Nationals, Youppi! was adopted by the historic Canadiens hockey organization. He's the first mascot to be thrown out of an MLB game, the first mascot to ever serve in two different sports, and one of only three mascots unofficially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. We'll give a big thumbs up to Youppi!


Rocky


When Carmelo Anthony departed the Nuggets for brighter Big Apple pastures out east, Mile High residents were initially upset that they lost their team's only superstar. But then they remembered they still had Rocky, the fearless and hilarious mountain lion who can make even the most damning Nuggets defeat into a roaring delight for fans.


Phillie Phanatic


If the citizens of Philadelphia had to vote on which figure best represented their city, Benjamin Franklin or the Phillie Phanatic, they'd probably opt for the latter. This furry green monster-looking thing is a cherished member of the Phillies organization, and has even appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and 30 Rock.


Racing Sausages


Technically the sausages aren't the Brewers' mascot so much as a cherished mid-sixth-inning pasttime, but these wursts are one of the best aspects of Milwaukee baseball. Former Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman actually knocked down one of the sausages with his baseball bat, leading to a fine and suspension from the MLB.


Stanford Tree


Technically not an official mascot of the university, the Stanford Tree is a costume worn by a member of the marching band during major sporting events. Throughout decades of prestige and excellence, countless Stanford alums are still proud to call this goofy-eyed environmental mascot one of their own.

UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs


Sure, the Banana Slugs are arguably one of the most bizarre team names in NCAA history. But there are a lot of noble ideals hiding behind the Banana Slugs' oily trail. The slugs are meant to be a commentary on the overemphasis of athletics in college, and UCSC is a school that promotes the value of participating in sports over winning. Samuel L. Jackson infamously wore a banana slugs T-shirt in "Pulp Fiction," making the quirky mascot even more popular.


Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes


There's actually a pretty interesting story behind this veggie mascot. In the 1970s, it was revealed that Scottsdale CC was improperly using scholarship funds intended for Native American students to bribe athletes to attend their school. As a response, the angry student body voted to change the mascot to something so completely ridiculous and laughable that it would shame the school for years to come. The Fighting Artichokes were the result, and they're still the mascot of this small school to this day.

Brutus Buckeye


There's nothing more intimidating than when a dominant Ohio State football squad comes roaring into your home stadium, ready to demolish your team's chances at a BCS championship. That is until Brutus the Buckeye appears on field, a wide-mouthed, glass-eyed mascot who doesn't really instill fear into the hearts of his opponents so much as make them laugh.

Chip


The University of Colorado is known for their main mascot Ralphie, a real-life stampeding buffalo brought on field before football games. But Chip is actually the costumed-official to interact with fans during sporting events. However, CU tried to turn its eye on Chip after the mascot appeared at a Denver Nuggets mascot game with a teardrop tattoo, a sign in gang culture indicating that he had murdered someone. Chip's tattoo sparked outcry, and was another notch on the belt of CU's controversial athletic history.

Lil' Red


For a college football program as historic as the Nebraska Cornhuskers, it makes sense that they'd have two mascots. Herbie Husker is a confident cowboy-hat wearing addition to the squad. His younger counterpart, Lil' Red, is a completely different story. Originally conceived as a way to appeal to younger fans, Lil' Red has the ability to dance and surf in the crowd with ease. But it's hard not to look at him without getting a little bit creeped out.


Boltman


Boltman is almost a parody of mascots, a character so over-the-top and eccentric that it's hard to believe a professional sports team would even allow his creation. Yet this electrified, sunglass-wearing Charger native has been entertaining fans through the team's ups and downs for years.


Steely McBeam


It is difficult to come up with a suitable mascot when your team is named after an industrial trade. Yet there's something that's just unsettling about the Pittsburgh Steelers' mascot Steely McBeam. In 2010, the mascot was accused of sexual assault in a Pittsburgh gay bar. Clearly the historic Steelers could have built a better mascot foundation for their franchise.

Burnie


Trivia question: who is the only professional mascot to have been sued for assault and battery and faced up to 20 years in prison? Burnie, the not-so-lovable mascot of the Miami Heat. In 1994, Burnie dragged a female spectator onto the court, who later turned out to be the wife of a Federal Judge. Burnie faced assault and battery charges plus $1 million for emotional distress. The mascot only suffered a $50,000 burning hole in his pocket.
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