Mascots are often thought of as a harmless and fun part of their sport, but sometimes, things can take a very wrong turn. West Virginia’s Mountaineer found that out the hard way on Friday, as Troy Clemons, the man behind the Mountaineer costume, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence following a Breathalyzer test revealing a .126 blood alcohol level.
West Virginia still took the field with a Mountaineer in its home game against Oklahoma State, as a different student ended up playing the Mountaineer with Clemons suspended. He’s far from the first mascot to have trouble with the law, and he probably won’t be the last.
Here are some other costumed creatures who ran afoul of the law.
Mascots usually don’t get in trouble for their behavior during a game, but Cincinnati’s Bearcat managed to find a way when Cincinnati met Pittsburgh in what was then its annual River City Rivalry. With snow falling at Nippert Stadium, the Bearcats’ mascot, played by M. Robert Garfield III, started throwing snowballs at the Pittsburgh fans and was told to stop by stadium security.
Instead, Garfield shoved a security guard and was promptly arrested and removed from the stadium. Like West Virginia, Cincinnati didn’t go without a mascot for the game. It called in its replacement, who promptly got in a fake fight with the Panthers’ mascot, a much more normal display of mascot behavior.
Chicago’s Bulls Mascots
When a team has two mascots, it’s usually a good thing that allows them to reach twice as many fans at once. In the case of the Chicago Bulls, however, it meant twice the problems.
In 2004, Chester Brewer, who portrayed “Da Bull”, was arrested for allegedly selling marijuana out of his car and possession of the illegal substance. At the time, Brewer had been part of the Bulls’ organization since 1996.
Incredibly, that wasn’t even the worst instance of a Bulls mascot brushing afoul of the law. Two years later at the annual Taste of Chicago, the other half of the duo, Benny the Bull, chose to ride a mini-motorcycle through Chicago’s Grant Park to give the Bulls a presence at the event.
One problem: neither he nor the Bulls had applied for a permit with the city to ride the motorcycle, as the Bulls had simply planned on him making an appearance without the motorcycle. Anderson was pulled over and punched an officer, landing him in handcuffs.
Rocky the Mountain Lion, Denver Nuggets
In 2002, the Nuggets went without a mascot briefly because their regular mascot Rocky found himself in legal trouble after following his ex-wife and three children into a doctor’s office.
Ken Solomon, the man behind the costume, was arrested after demanding to be there through his children’s doctor’s appointments and then following his ex-wife home when she refused.
Surprisingly, Solomon survived the incident long enough to land himself in trouble again, this time while in costume. In 2014, he showed up in his Rocky outfit at a rally for Colorado’s Republican candidate for governor, Bob Beauprez. However, the Nuggets never signed off on Rocky’s appearance and quickly distanced themselves from the event.
Pat Patriot, New England Patriots
The Patriots have been well-known for making all the right moves over the past decade-plus, but that didn’t extend to the mascot.
In 2009, Rhode Island closed a longtime loophole that had accidentally made prostitution legal in the Ocean State, and one of the men implicated in a sting shortly after that change was Robert Sormanti, one of the men who played Pat Patriot. No word exists on Sormanti’s fate following the arrest.
The Pirate Parrot, Pittsburgh Pirates
Of all the arrests on this list, this is the only one that almost forced a team to leave its city. The Pirates found themselves wrapped up in the Pittsburgh drug trials of the 1980’s, which centered around cocaine. In 1985, with the Pirates in the midst of one of their worst seasons in history, things got even worse when Kevin Koch, the man behind the Pirate Parrot costume, was arrested for his role in distributing cocaine through Pittsburgh, including to Pirates players.
Koch, however, escaped punishment by becoming an informant for the FBI to bring down the cocaine ring. The cocaine problems were so bad at the time that speculation existed of the Pirates moving to Denver, but they ultimately escaped unscathed and rebuilt themselves into a playoff contender. The only one who left Pittsburgh was Koch himself, as he fled the city for the Bay Area in 1986 at the end of his FBI work.