Archive for Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Beware of KC Wolf

Chiefs mascot propels muffins at high speed

January 5, 2005

He's 8 feet tall and sometimes gyrates his pelvis as his black eyeballs go round and round on his oversized head.

His name is KC Wolf, the lovable mascot of the Kansas City Chiefs.

During Kansas City's home game last month against Denver, however, he was a giant furball of terror.

As is customary in the fourth quarter of each Chiefs home game, the mascot makes his way around the field at Arrowhead Stadium. Pulling a small red wagon behind, KC Wolf throws packaged baked goods into the stands.

Sitting two rows from the field, I eagerly awaited a chance to catch whatever treat Mr. Wolf would be throwing. In the past, he's thrown Twinkies -- not a bad pastry in the middle of the afternoon. This time, however, he was rifling bags of mini-muffins into the stands.

I knew this only because I caught one. The throw looked to be intended for a teen-ager in front of me, but the cat-like reflexes of a former lineman were no match for the youngster. I hauled in the interception and looked at the prize with utmost joy.

After another bag ricocheted off a few hands, I was excited to see my friend also nab a bag.

In the process, though, we couldn't help but notice how fast these muffins were moving toward the spectators. As many fans around me seemed to take cover, I continued watching in amazement as Mr. Wolf threw the muffins with reckless abandon.

With temperatures likely in the teens, three shirtless fans a row in front of us and to the right seemed to take the brunt of the muffins.

One, though, almost with precision, zoomed between two of the shirtless wonders. Those catlike reflexes I spoke of earlier suddenly had vanished.

The bag of muffins plopped me squarely in the left eye.

Standing there stunned, all I could do is laugh. My friend didn't actually see the muffins hit my face -- but he definitely could hear plastic meet skin.

After laughing uncontrollably, I realized my face, numbed by the cold air, was hurting. My left cheek felt strange as Mr. Wolf continued to unleash his arm on other innocent Chiefs fans.

As my friend later pointed out, I deserved the injury considering I ripped the muffin from that younster's grasp and then paraded down the row with a victorious swagger.

I disagreed, noting that pastry-catching always is a free-for-all at Arrowhead Stadium.

When interviewed about his dangerous arm, KC Wolf, also known as Dan Meers, was quite humble.

"I always tell people you better be sitting in the first five rows," Meers said. "I usually tell my wife the following day what's usually sore on me is my arm."

Well, that certainly is a surprise. My arm probably would be hurting also if I were hurling muffins at that velocity.

And if Meers would move his target upward, he would find the muffins fly farther than the first five rows.

But as Meers said, athleticism is not his strongpoint.

"I always tell people I was a three-sport bench warmer," said Meers, a native of St. Charles, Mo.

Meers has been KC Wolf the past 15 years. Before that, he worked as Fred Bird, the St. Louis Cardinals' mascot. And before that, while in college, he was Truman Tiger, the mascot at Missouri.

This, I thought, might have played into my injury. A Kansas alum, I was wearing a KU stocking cap on that day. But Meers said that theory was invalid.

"I bean Missouri people too," Meers said with a laugh. "I'm not picky."

If he spots an inebriated fan, Meers might throw a bag of muffins at them, but usually he just throws with no particular pattern in mind.

Apparently I'm not alone in my desire to capture that coveted food.

Meers said many fans go wild when they see him pulling the muffins around the field.

"They'll do anything for a free muffin or a free Twinkie," Meers said. "It's kind of like feeding ducks for me at the lake."

This duck thought he would be feasting on a Twinkie. But Meers said muffins now are thrown because Orawheat now is the official bread of the Chiefs and the company, unfortunately, doesn't make Twinkies.

Whether he's throwing Twinkies or muffins, Meers said the fourth quarter is the best time to heave the carbohydrates.

"If the Chiefs are losing, it helps to comfort them," Meers said about the fans. "If they're winning it just adds to the excitement that they got free muffins."

In Meers' defense, he can't really see where the muffins are landing. The 6-foot-4 Meers looks through netting on the neck of the mascot. His visibility is limited.

"I wouldn't want to drive my car in it," he said.

He doesn't like driving his four-wheeler at games, either, because his vision is skewed.

Luckily when Meers drives on the field, no one is on the turf, so he can't injure anyone while driving his speedy four-wheeler.

"If I can keep it within the football lines I won't run over anybody," Meers said.

Whether he's riding a four-wheeler or high-fiving a youngster, the longtime mascot has been quite the fixture at Chiefs games. With the Cardinals, Meers made 81 home appearances during the season.

With the Chiefs, he only has 10.

Meers likely made the right choice. Now if he could just leave that pitching arm in St. Louis and take some mustard off his throws, he'll be good to go.

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