Revamped Roughriders mascot 'creepy and evil looking,' leaves children 'frightened'
Football fans are less than impressed with the newly redesigned mascot of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The CFL team revealed a made-over Gainer the Gopher with a slimmer physique, new shoes and bigger, striking green eyes at its home opener Monday night.
And it’s the eyes that have caught the most flack online.
The former premier of Saskatchewan Brad Wall even chimed in to liken Gainer’s steely green eyes to those of the spooky reanimated cat from horror master Stephen King’s Pet Sematary.
One woman was so upset she started a petition to bring the “real” Gainer back, which has garnered more than 3,500 virtual signatures.
“The updated Gainer is creepy and evil looking,” Carolyn Bell wrote on the petition site Change.org.
“Before, Gainer looked friendly, jolly and appealing. Also, new gopher is too slim and lacks the comfy contours of a true ground squirrel. Poor replacement that will frighten small children.”
Maria Vicente, who started the campaign, hopes the team “listen to their fans and do the right thing."
"It's just unfortunate that they decided to make such a huge change like that without consulting and I’m not alone in this opinion,” Vicente wrote.
According to Riderville, the website of the Roughriders, Gainer is one of 38 children born to Dwayne and Agnes Gopher, owners of a trenching and excavation company in Parkbeg.
He started cheering for the Riders in 1977.
“A slimmer Gainer is a good look, and I think if Gainer looks fit, that’s a good thing,” a fan told CTV news Regina.
“I do like the running shoes, because it looks like he’s active. But the face is scary and it really creeps me out, I don’t like it.”
The sentiment was echoed on social media with hashtag #notmygainer doing the rounds.
Commentators on the petition called the new look mascot “an imposter.”
“The new Gainer is a skinny, bug eyed, creepy grinning crack monster. Why change what isn't broken?” Sheila Olson wrote.
Some compared the new Gainer to Gritty, the infamous seven-foot monster mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers.