The expansion Ottawa RedBlacks have changed the name of their new lumberjack mascot after receiving some critical feedback on the original choice.
The CFL team announced last week that the mascot would go by the handle of “Big Joe Mufferaw.” On Monday, the name was changed to “Big Joe” in English and “Grand Jos” in French.
“We unintentionally offended some with the original name and we sincerely apologize for that,” said Jeff Hunt, the president of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the RedBlacks. “We hope to create a fan base that is unified in its support for the RedBlacks and we will continue to strive to do our best in that regard.”
The team received a number of suggestions from fans before naming the mascot. Many wanted it named after late Ottawa storyteller Bernie Bedore’s character, which was inspired by Joseph Montferrand, a real-life Outaouais logger and defender of Francophone rights in the 1800’s.
However, critics felt that using the “Mufferaw” name was disrespectful.
The team said it plans to continue to seek opportunities to welcome Francophone football fans from Gatineau, Que., and Eastern Ontario and engage the Francophone community with appearances by players and the mascot throughout the region.
Big Joe Mufferaw was also immortalized in a famous song by Canadian country-folk legend Stompin’ Tom Connors.
The RedBlacks will kick off their inaugural season July 3 in Winnipeg. Their first home game is scheduled for July 18 versus Toronto.