Since I’m an animal lover, I thought I’d make a list of my 10 favorite animals used as NFL mascots. While not all teams choose an animal, many still do.
I should preface this list of favorite animals who happen to be NFL mascots with this note: the list is based on the animals, not the teams. So it’s entirely possible I might choose a team I’d never pull for just because I like the mascot choice. Likewise, I might skip a team I would pull for if their mascot wouldn’t make this list.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
I’ve always loved tigers, which I think are easily one of the most beautiful animals on the planet. But I’ve always had an inner conflict over this fact, since my college’s top rival happened to have the tiger as a mascot as well. I’ve held a Bengal tiger cub as well as an albino tiger cub at different points. The first time I held one, I heard this strange sounding rumbling as I rubbed its belly. I was a bit alarmed at this until the trainer said the cub was purring at me because he liked the belly rub. Yes, tiger cubs purr just like housecats! Who knew!?
2. Miami Dolphins
One of the items on my bucket list is to swim (or at least wade) with dolphins. I’ve always loved them, and I guess the classic TV series Flipper was to blame. There have been times here in Charleston where I’ve seen dolphins in the water, but never close enough to touch one or have any kind of one-on-one interaction.
3. New Orleans Saints/Cleveland Browns
You probably figured I’d find a way to get a dog high up on the list. From these two teams, I managed to get three. The Saints’ “Gumbo” is a Saint Bernard. Meanwhile, the Browns’ have “Chomp,” which is a person in a dog costume, and “Swagger,” a live bullmastiff introduced in 2014:
— Pumpkinhead 🎃 (@PumpkinNation) July 14, 2014
4. Detroit Lions
The king of the forest, nicknamed, appropriately enough, “Roary,” serves as Detroit’s mascot. I’ve always liked lions, but I just think the markings on tigers are a bit more attractive.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
The South Carolina Aquarium has an eagle, named Liberty, among its exhibits. They’re gorgeous birds and when they make eye contact with you, you have this instinctive feeling that this is a bird you don’t want to mess with.
6. Charlotte Panthers
We may have grown up watching the Pink Panther, but Charlotte’s black panther is Sir Purr. Aside from the beauty of a real panther, Charlotte happens to be one of my favorite cities.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaxson DeVille is the official name of the Jaguars’ mascot. It was spelled that way, as the story goes, because the city of Jacksonville is often abbreviated as “Jax.”
8. Denver Broncos/Indianapolis Colts
I had an uncle who owned a horse — a Tennessee Walker named “Baby” — when I was a kid. He kept her at a stable where a fellow horse owner had a beautiful Arabian horse. I only recall actually riding a horse one time: it’s not nearly as easy as it looks. But I have a special place in my heart for horses. The Broncos have “Miles” and “Thunder II” (an Arabian), while the Colts have “Blue.”
9. Arizona Cardinals
I was walking the dog the other day and spotted a Cardinal in the bushes. With that bright red color, it’s hard to miss a Cardinal. They’re one of my favorite birds because of the color. Arizona’s mascot is named “Big Red.”
10. Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta’s mascot is named “Freddie Falcon.” Like most of these mascots, Freddie is a person in a costume. The Falcons also get a gold star for their logo, with a stylized Falcon design that doubles as a letter F.
That’s my list. Again, this list was all about the animals depicted, not the teams. Don’t hate.