Feathers, fur fly at NFL mascot training camp

Thursday, March 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A colorful gaggle of costumed characters engaged in a mock football practice _ complete with some clumsy tackling _ on the final day of a convention of NFL mascots.

The Dallas Cowboys' Howdie, big-headed and even bigger-hatted, joined host Swoop of the Philadelphia Eagles and 11 other mascots who clowned before the cameras for an NFL Films production.

``They are all here in Philadelphia getting ready for the 2001 season,'' said Julie Dubin, the Eagles' coordinator of community relations. ``This is the first time we've done anything like this.''

The gathering Wednesday had a serious side: The mascots arrived in Philadelphia on Monday night and spent much of Tuesday in seminars and conferences, learning how to better promote their teams in the community.

``The NFL league is built on being in the community and these mascots work 365 days out of the year in their communities,'' said Dave Rowan, Eagles' vice president of corporate sales. ``It's important for the mascots to get together and talk about what they can do in the community.''

Ryan Hughes, Eagles' mascot coordinator, said the group talked about having mascots make appearances at charity events, or visit schools to encourage students to get good grades and not drop out.

``We thought it was time for us to meet,'' Hughes said. ``We spent a lot of time talking about how to be more visible and help out in the community as much as possible.''

Curtis Dvorak, 26, who works as Jaxson of the Jacksonville Jaguars, said he joined the Jaguars five years ago after graduating from college. He decided to try his luck at becoming a mascot after speaking with the Florida Marlins' mascot.

``It's a great job, a lot of work but a lot of fun,'' Dvorak said.

Keeping cool, though, can be a challenge.

``It doesn't matter where you are, it's hot inside'' the costumes, he said.