Do mascots have First Amendment rights? And why would Rocky, a mountain lion, support the party that advocates the right to bear arms? It doesn't seem in his best interests. These are the questions we must answer if we want to move forward as a democracy. The Denver Nuggets would sure like to get to the bottom of this, that's for sure.
Rocky, the snuggly Nuggets' mountain lion mascot, was previously most noted for being lowered motionless from the rafters during a game this past season looking quite dead. It turns out he had just passed out, but the effect was macabre and memorable. But on Monday Rocky made the transition into politics, appearing at a Republican rally at Heritage High School in Littleton, CO, where one of the speakers was Mitt Romney.
Nuggets marketing manager Graham Wincott, who handles Rocky and his appearances, said the team's mascot showing up at the GOP event was "an unsanctioned, unpaid appearance that we had no knowledge of."
"As a sports team, we want to be apolitical," Wincott said. "Two things we never touch on are politics and religion."
One doesn't expect Pierre, the New Orleans Pelican, to show up an an environmental protest against BP Oil -- although one would expect that's where his allegiances lie. Mascots are required to keep their politics to themselves, lest they offend half of their team's fan base (percentage may differ with Utah Jazz).
The Nuggets are investigating and Ken Solomon, the actor who has played Rocky for more than 20 years, may soon be lowered lifeless from the rafters for real. The tweet above was deleted, but Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call is supporting Rocky's political rights.
"I was surprised and pleased to see Rocky before the rally yesterday, and understand he was there at the invitation and as a guest of a long-time supporter of Mitt Romney and Bob Beauprez," Call wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. "Although he did not play a role in the formal program, it was terrific to see him interacting with Nuggets fans and putting smiles on the faces of people in the gathering crowd before the rally started.
"I'm sure everyone understands that his appearance in no way implies an endorsement by the Denver Nuggets of any candidate or party. Nuggets fans also understand that even Rocky has First Amendment rights and the Colorado Republican Party stands with him."
It's true that Rocky was not involved in the formal program -- which means he would have been required to make a speech. But to claim that his appearance did not endorse the Republican Party is nuts. It would have been much smarter for a rally including Mitt Romney to include Squatch, the Seattle SuperSonics mascot. Like Bigfoot, Romney had a lot of trouble in 2012 proving he was real.
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