Philadelphia Hockey Mascot ‘Gritty’ Accused of Punching Child

Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

Chris Greenwell said that his son Brandon was punched in the back by “Gritty” at a recent Flyers game.

During an event for season ticket holders, Greenwell and his son were invited for some face time with the giant furry orange mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers. There was an hour-long wait, but eventually they were able to take a photo with Gritty.

According to Greenwell, Brandon patted Gritty on the head after the picture was taken. As they left the costumed adult stood, “took a running start,” and then “punched [Brandon] as hard as he could.” There is apparently no video footage of the incident, however. Officials said “cameras in that area of the center are focused on other locations.”

Greenwell sent a letter to Comcast Spectacor, first complaining that the picture they received was “lousy” and that Gritty did not look at the camera. Then he addressed the alleged assault, writing:

I know it was not correct for my son to harmlessly tap him on his head but for a Flyers employee to get [sic] throw a full punch at someone with his back turned and hurt a 13 year old boy is assault, unprofessional and unacceptable for your organization.

“We took Mr. Greenwell’s allegations seriously and conducted a thorough investigation that found nothing to support this claim,” a Flyers spokesperson said in a statement emailed to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

E-mail exchanges grew tense when Laurie Kleinman, vice president of risk management at Comcast Spectacor, differed with Greenwell on the content of their ongoing conversation. Greenwell claims that Kleinman admitted Gritty did hit his son, while Kleinman denies it.

“At no time did I state that one of my colleagues hit your son,” Kleinman replied in a later e-mail to Greenwell. “Gritty, however, recalls being hit on the head repeatedly by someone during one of the earlier photo shoots.”

Greenwell later took his son to a chiropractor due to ongoing back pain, where he was diagnosed with a “contusion to lower thoracic spine with subluxation,” or back bruise. After dismissal by Flyers officials, Greenwell took his complaint to law enforcement.

As of the time of this writing, Greenwell has not hired representation, saying he just wants an apology and “something special” for his son in recompense. The unusual case has drawn lots of social media attention — including commentary by Grammy award-winning musician Questlove.

“This Gritty story is the most philly jawn i’ve read in a min,” he tweeted.


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