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With the “help” of a Canisius graduate and longtime supporter, Canisius College’s mascot, Petey the Griffin, spoke out on a USA Today blog about William and Mary College’s recent decision to adopt a griffin as their new mascot.
The article, which appeared on USA Today’s “Game On” sports blog on April 8, is a light-hearted poke at William and Mary for choosing a mascot that Canisius has used since 1932, one that is a well-known symbol of collegiate sports in the Buffalo area.
“Petey” took particular exception to the fact that a FAQ on William and Mary’s sports page currently reads, “What other schools have a Griffin for mascot? Not many. And none of those who do have William & Mary’s strong athletic tradition.” The site then provides a brief list of other colleges who are also deemed as being in a similar category.
In response to this, “Petey” sent an open-letter to William and Mary, emphasizing the fact that although that college is the second-oldest institute of higher education in the United States, Canisius’ athletic tradition in Western New York is indeed a strong one.
“Really? Bill, last I looked you and Mary are still waiting on your first Big Dance. Me, I’ve been to four of them. That’s 10 more Men’s NCAA tournament games, and six more wins, than your basketball factory,” Petey wrote.
As for the history of the logo, “Petey” has a good point in saying that Canisius was the first to use the mythological creature as its mascot. The college adopted it in 1932, after Charles A. Brady (’33) wrote a story in a Canisius publication honoring Buffalo’s centennial year as a city. Brady wrote about Rene-Robert LaSalle’s Griffon, the first European ship to sail the upper Great Lakes. The name stuck, and Canisius’ mascot was born.
According to GoGriffs.com, the griffin is a “mythical creature of supposed gigantic size that has the head, forelegs and wings of an eagle and the hindquarters, tail and ears of a lion.” It represents values such as strength, vigilance, and intelligence, all of which befit a college and qualities that one would look for in students and athletes alike.
Therefore, “Petey” is right to take pride in the fact that he is the mascot for Canisius and has been for over 75 years. Erik Brady (’76), a writer for USA Today and the son of Charles Brady, “helped” Petey the Griffin pen the blog article. According to him, he was “born” into the tradition of the Golden Griffin, one that has stayed with him since the time when he donned the mascot’s suit with pride in his college years.
“My father got the mascot started when he was a student at Canisius in 1933. And I wore the griffin suit as a student 40-some years later,” Brady said. “I don’t wear it anymore (well, not much, anyway) but I remain a griffin through and through.”
According to Brady, his initial reaction to hearing that William and Mary had adopted a griffin as its mascot was one of “surprise” and welcoming of “another mythical monster to our exclusive club.” However, after he saw the section of William and Mary’s site that dismissed the athletic tradition at Canisius, he took action with “Petey.”
Ultimately, the article that “Petey” wrote encourages Buffalonians to get in touch with the history of a college that has been part of the city’s history since 1870, long before anyone ever thought of Petey. Regardless of whoever else decides to adopt a griffin as their own mascot, Petey represents decades of a rich Canisius and Buffalo tradition.