The Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky made an unauthorized visit to a Colorado Republican event, which included 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, sparking some ire from the Nuggets owners at Kroenke Sports Enterprises.
On Tuesday, KSE made a visit to Ken Solomon, the actor who has played the friendly, dancing mountain lion Rocky for more than 20 years “to figure out exactly how it happened and what transpired and get to the bottom of how all this occurred.”
Mascot lion trainer and Nuggets marketing manager Graham Wincott asserted that Rocky showing up at the rally was “an unsanctioned, unpaid appearance that we had no knowledge of.” He added that, “As a sports team, we want to be apolitical…. Two things we never touch on are politics and religion.”
The Denver Post reported that the matter was being handled “internally” and that KSE is setting “new protocol for anyone who wears a mascot uniform for a Kroenke sports team.”
Stan Kroenke, besides owning the Nuggets, owns the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League and the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer. Moreover, he has a 40 percent stake in the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League. The Denver Post labels Kroenke a “staunch Republican,” and his history of political giving buttresses that assessment.
Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call admitted that he was pleased and surprised to see Rocky at the event. Solomon was invited as a guest of former congressman Bob Beauprez, who is running for governor of Colorado and is a longtime friend of Romney.
The chairman insisted, “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.”