The word mascot is derived from the French word “mascotte,” which in English, roughly translates into a lucky charm. In the early days, these “lucky charms” were often actual live animals or occasionally people in suits. However, in the 1960s, the Muppet mascots, which are commonly used in sports today, made their debut.
In the world of sports, these Muppet mascots are generally used as a sort of cheerleader or motivational figure that fans can rally behind. They can be a person, animal, or even an object, so long as they can generate excitement from their team's loyal fan base.
That being said, when it comes to generating excitement, not all mascots are created equal. In fact, some of these wild Muppets can have a very different effect on audiences. As time goes on, and new sports teams continue to emerge, trying to find an original mascot to represent one's organization has become increasingly challenging.
In this quest for originally, we have seen teams come up with some strange creatures to represent their organization. Truthfully, some of these mascots are not just strange; they are also downright creepy.
With that in mind, here is a list of 15 sports mascots that would give anyone nightmares.
15 The Niles McKinley High Viking
The Viking has become a very common choice for both a team name and mascot over the years. The most notable organization using the Norsemen as their logo is the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings. While the Viking shown in this picture isn’t from a professional team, he certainly warrants being on our list. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night and seeing that thing standing at the edge of your bed. This has to be the most unsettling depiction of the historical seaman anyone can expect to come across.
If this Viking mascot doesn’t look familiar, that’s because it belongs to a high school by the name of Niles McKinley. Niles McKinley High School is located in Niles, Ohio and is also home to this creepy Viking.
14 Southern Illinois: Saluki
There is actually a reason this mascot looks a bit an Egyptian demon god out of fictional horror film. That’s because the animal he represents, the Saluki, was known as the Royal Dog of Egypt. The next logical question might be, why would an Egyptian dog be the mascot for Southern Illinois University Carbondale, which is located in Carbondale, Illinois? This is because Southern Illinois has been known locally as “Little Egypt” for around 200 years; due to the fact the land was supposedly similar to that of Egypt’s Nile delta.
As we can see, there is a lot of history packed into this particular mascot. History aside, the dog’s appearance is still a bit unnerving. Perhaps, Southern Illinois University Carbondale was barking up the wrong tree with this mascot choice.
13 Wichita State: WuShock
Are friend WuShock here is the mascot for the Wichita State Shockers. This a mascot you certainly wouldn’t want to see wandering around in your backyard. If you are wondering what exactly WuShock is supposed to be; you are not alone. Apparently, the Wichita State product is supposed to a shock of wheat. For those who aren’t well versed in farming terminology, a “shock” is just another way of saying a stack of wheat. In other words, the mascot is basically a giant stack of wheat with eyes.
The WuShock name was created around 1948, due in large part to the fact that many of Wichita State’s football players were known for working the wheat fields during the summer. WuShock has been around for over have a century and has remained creepy throughout his existence.
12 Oklahoma State: Pistol Pete
Oklahoma State’s Pistol Pete looks like his head has been cryogenically frozen for some time now. One has to wonder what the expressionless Sheriff will think of the 21st century when he finally thaws out. While it isn’t uncommon for sports mascot to have disproportionately large heads, Pistol Pete may be taking it to the extreme. In fact, his large head is one of the major reasons the Oklahoma State character looks so frightening.
While most mascots are able to bring a smile to a child’s face, old Pistol Pete here appears to have made the youngster in the photo burst into tears. When your mascot is clearly scaring small children, it may be time to change things up a bit. That being said, at least he’s getting a response from fans.
11 UC Irvine: Peter Anteater
Based on his overly muscular physique, one might accuse the University of California’s Peter Anteater of using performance-enhancing drugs. The buff mascot clearly spends a lot of time in the gym, making him quite an imposing figure. Moreover, Peter’s focused beady eyes make him a slightly unsettling creature to behold.
In 1965, the students of UC Irvine got had the opportunity to vote on their school’s mascot. According to the schools a sport’s website, “Water polo players Pat Glasgow and Bob Ernst, unimpressed by mascot suggestions from university administration, proposed the anteater idea to some friends. The water polo players successfully lobbied for the Anteater mascot. And on Nov. 30, 1965 – the Anteater emerged victorious with some 56 percent of the vote, beating out alternatives such as the unicorns, sea hawks, toros, bison, centaurs, roadrunners and “none of these.” The centaur certainly would have been interesting.
10 The King Cake Baby
The King Cake Baby has been terrifying the masses, as far back as 2014. This giant baby-faced mascot represents the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. Fortunately, for those who find The King Cake Baby a bit unsettling, he is only a seasonal mascot. This is because King Cake is a seasonal food in New Orleans.
The King Cake is a favorite in Southern Louisiana, especially around Carnival season. Carnival seasons run from the 6th of January until Fat Tuesday. These days, Carnival season is better known as Mardi Gras. When one receives a King Cake during Mardi Gras, they will often find tiny toy baby Jesus inside, which is where the King Cake Baby's name is derived from.
However, even knowing its history, doesn’t take away from the fact that this is one of the creepiest things you will ever see on an NBA court.
9 Partick Thistle: Kingsley
This bizarre sun-like creature is known as Kingsley and is the official mascot for Scottish Premier football (soccer) team Partick Thistle. Kingsley was the joint creation of an artist named David Shrigley and the club’s sponsor, a California based investment firm, known as Kingsford Capital.
The yellow bucktooth mascot is both ridiculous and slightly creepy. In this photo, Kingsley can be seen chasing a group of small children, who look both amused and somewhat frightened. Unsurprisingly, when the mascot was unveiled, it was mocked by the press and fans on social media. For those who don’t find the yellow fellow off-putting, Kingsley is apparently very active on outlets like Twitter and Instagram, so feel free to follow him. This is one football (soccer) mascot that may not have been such a bright idea.
8 Dallas Cowboys: Rowdy
The Dallas Cowboy’s Rowdy is one of the better-known mascots on our list. However, that doesn’t make him any less creepy. In truth, Rowdy wouldn’t be half as bad, if he would just close his mouth. The permanently wowed Cowboy always looks like he is getting ready to take a bit out of something…or someone. In this photo, he appears to be making this blonde cheerleader a little uncomfortable.
Rowdy was not the team’s original mascot and has only been around since 1996. The first Cowboy’s mascot, albeit unofficial, was a fan by the name of Crazy Ray. Crazy Ray was so well known he even wound up in the Fans Exhibit in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Sadly, Ray passed away in 2007. It sounds like Rowdy has some big shoes to fill and probably needs to step up his game if he wants to end up in the Hall.
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Captain Fear
The villainous pirate is clearly ogling this poor cheerleader, who is supporting the very team he represents. Apparently, after all that time at sea, the swashbuckler has forgotten his manners. This wide-eyed Tampa Bay Buccaneer mascot goes by the name of Captain Fear. Known for scruffy beard and pirate attire, the Captain has navigated his way through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sidelines since June of 2000.
While Captain Fear has been around for about 17 years now, he isn’t the team's first mascot. That title belongs to Bucco Bruce, a winking pirate with a saber in his mouth. In truth, Bucco Bruce was also slightly creepy in his own right. Of course, one should probably expect a pirate to be somewhat off-putting, so we probably shouldn’t be too hard on these guys.
6 Saint Louis Universtiy: The Billiken
If one was beamed up by a flying saucer, while being abducted by aliens, they might expect to be greeted by a creature similar to Saint Louis University's mascot, The Billiken. For those who aren’t familiar with Billikens, they are charm dolls that were created by a Missouri-based art teacher named Florence Pretz. Apparently, they were based on a mysterious figure she encountered in her dreams. It’s fair to say that if most of us had a dream involving the creature in the photo, we would likely wake up screaming.
For those who plan on attending a sporting event at Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University campus, you can expect to be greeted by a bronze Billiken statue; now there’s something to look forward to.
5 Scottsdale Community College: Artie the Artichoke
This bizarre looking monstrosity is Scottsdale Community College ‘s mascot, who goes by the name of Artie The Artichoke. Why on earth would a school want their mascot to be an artichoke? According to the school’s official website, “Born during a period of student unrest in the early 1970s, Artie the Artichoke was adopted as the school’s mascot to express a difference of opinion concerning budget priorities.” Apparently, artichokes somehow equate to budget concerns. Scottsdale’s website goes on to say, “Originally intended to be a source of embarrassment, Artie has been embraced by students, athletes, staff, and the community as a beloved character.”
It’s fair to say Artie The Artichoke’s origin leaves us with more questions than answers. On a positive note, it’s good to see students have grown to accept the “beloved character.”
4 Mr.Red Leg
The Cincinnati Reds' Mr. Redleg is one of better-known mascots on our list. With his wide eyes and villainous handlebar mustache, he is also one of the strangest characters in all of Major League Baseball. In this photo, it appears that Mr. Redleg is trying to find a prom date. One has to hope that whoever Dat Dude BP is, that they told this baseball-headed creep no.
Mr. Redleg ousted the previous Reds mascot, known simply as Mr. Red, during the 2007 season. Mr. Redleg is actually one of the team's many mascots,which include The female Rosie Red, a dragon-like creature known as Gapper, and Mr. Red, the original mascot who made his triumphed return in 2012. The Cincinnati Red’s defiantly aren’t short on mascots.
3 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
This large creature is known as Big Red, the mascot for the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers. At first glance, based on the team’s name, one might logically conclude that Big Red is, in fact, a hill. However, this assumption would be incorrect. The Western Kentucky mascot is actually a red, furry blob, which is exactly what he looks like. He was created almost 40 years ago, back in 1979 by a man named Ralph Carey.
Believe it or not, the strange blob has actually won awards. He was awarded 2nd-runner up for collegiate mascot of the year in 1990 and made it to the final four during ESPN’s “Battle of the Mascot’s" back in 1996. The creepy award winner can be seen munching on a yard line marker in this unflattering photo.
2 UC Berkley: Oski
Oski or Oski The Bear, looks like something straight out of a 3-year-old's worst nightmare. The University of California Berkeley mascot looks like someone chopped off his ears. Moreover, the mischievous grin plastered on his face leaves one with the distinct impression that this bear is up to no good.
The bear may look odd, but he is quite popular at the school he represents. Moreover, he was created back in 1941, making him a relatively old bear. Oski is also mentioned in several of the schools fight songs with lyrics like, “Our sturdy Golden Bear Is watching from the skies; Looks down upon our colors fair, And guards us from his lair” and “All our rival's hopes are doomed to die, When our Golden Bear looks down on high; Hear our Oski's mighty thunder.”
1 Saint Mary’s College Of California: Gael
Saint Mary’s College of California’s mascot Gael could easily portray a villainous character in a Walt Disney film. The large chinned gentleman is supposed to be an Irish Warrior who represents hard work and passion. The idea for the mascot came from the fact that there were a large number of Irish players on the school’s football team back in the day.
Prior to Gael’s debut in 2008, the school mascot was a knight wearing a suit of armor, who went by the name Gael Force One. According to an article on the school website, ““The mascot change was a big controversy for the students and the administration says Assistant Dean of Student Life Ete Anderson. But the cartoon-like warrior who symbolizes the Gaels eventually won their hearts.”