Emerson College’s mascot, Griff the Lion. Photo/Declan Berkeley ’21
There are no physical, written or oral tests to be Griff, Emerson College’s mascot lion. You just need a desire to jump around, entertain and have fun with the crowd.
For junior Sam Knox, he was actually asked by the Director of Athletic Communication Nick Pezzillo to don the lion outfit, and the broadcast journalism major knew he’d be good as Griff.
“I just always thought I had the personality that a mascot entails. I am personable and like interacting with people,” said Knox, who is also a pitcher for Emerson’s baseball team, and has no plans on doubling down on being the mascot and pitch during games like a superhero with a secret identity.
A few of Knox’s friends and his parents (who find hilarity in their son being Griff) know the man behind the lion, and Knox enjoys being incognito, “It is fun because no one knows who you are. It’s always fun because you’re anonymous. It’s also a good way to promote Emerson athletics and have a presence that represents the programs well.”
Knox said he wasn’t given any specific instructions on being Griff, just go out, be himself and do what mascots do: cheer on the team while interacting and energizing fans.
“I think most of it is having fun with it. You can act like a kid. You can go up to people and they’ll treat you like they know you because you’re a mascot,” said Knox.
And whether you’re Griff the Lion or Mickey Mouse in Disney World, people always want to know what’s it like being on the inside of the outfit.
“Very warm. It’s sometimes too warm. I sweat, that’s for sure. Sometimes I have to take a break and take off the giant lion head and drink some water,” said Knox, who said the outfit doesn’t smell bad. “It’s a pretty heavy costume, but it’s newer, so it’s not as bad as other ones that may be heavier.”
Interestingly, there is difficulty in managing the costume’s head, as it doesn’t stay on the shoulders. So, if Knox were to lean over too much, the head would fall off, and unmask his secret identity.
And now that school is back in session Knox expects to be Griff at upcoming women’s and men’s basketball games as the Lions reach for the playoffs. “For the bigger games, they’ll ask me to do it – for senior games or games that bring a lot of fans on Saturday. That’s when I suit up as Griff.”