Jeff Neiburg - Delaware Online Sports
Chris Greenwell said he just wanted an apology, an extensive investigation, and for his son's chiropractor bills to be paid. Instead, the Newark man will not be renewing his Flyers season tickets after a November incident during which he says Gritty the mascot punched his 13-year-old son.
Greenwell brought his son with him to a meet-and-greet event on Nov. 19. After taking a photo with Gritty, his son playfully tapped the mascot on the head, "three times," Greenwell said.
"Two seconds later, he lunged toward my son from about 8 to 10 feet away and punched him in the back," Greenwell said by phone Wednesday. "I thought it was horseplay, because he does it with so many people."
But his son, Greenwell said, complained of back pain and was diagnosed the following week by a chiropractor with back contusions.
A police report was filed Dec. 21, more than a month after the incident occurred. Philadelphia police did not release that report, but a spokesperson confirmed "a report of a physical assault that occurred at 3601 S Broad Street, during a photo shoot with 13-year-old male and the Flyers mascot Gritty was reported.
"The incident occurred November 2019. The investigation is active and ongoing with South Detectives Division."
In a statement, the Flyers said: “We took Mr. Greenwell’s allegations seriously and conducted a thorough investigation that found nothing to support this claim.”
Greenwell said the delay in reporting to police was because he was giving the Flyers and Comcast Spectacor, the company that owns the team, time to rectify the situation.
He said he contacted his season ticket representative, who put him in touch with Comcast Spectacor.
Greenwell said he wanted "an apology and some accountability." He asked to see the video, but was told that there was no video evidence of the incident and that cameras weren't pointing in that direction, he said.
Greenwell exchanged emails with Comcast Spectacor's vice president of risk management, Laurie Kleinman. Greenwell said Kleinman told him that Gritty admitted to punching his son in the chest, a statement that Kleinman disputed.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, which reported the story Wednesday afternoon, Kleinman said in a Dec. 23 email to Greenwell: “At no time did I state that one of my colleagues hit your son. Gritty, however, recalls being hit on the head repeatedly by someone during one of the earlier photo shoots.”
"All I wanted them to do was give my son an apology," Greenwell said Wednesday. "I wanted his medical bills paid, a couple hundred bucks, and for them do something special to make up for it ... I wasn’t asking for anything else."
Greenwell said the team offered to upgrade his tickets at a home game.
"They wanted me to drop it," he said
"You had an adult employee injure a 13-year-old child. I wasn’t trying to get anyone fired, I wanted an investigation to figure out what happened and why."
Dissatisfied, he went to police.
He won't be renewing his season tickets, he said, which he's had since 1997. There won't be a lawsuit.
"I don’t have an attorney. I’m not calling anyone. My son is fine," he said.
Sunday, Greenwell drove his son to the Wells Fargo Center for another event for season ticket holders. He put his resentment aside, he said, to give his son an opportunity to meet his favorite players, Claude Giroux and Carter Hart.
"I do what I gotta do as a dad to make my son happy."
Contact Jeff Neiburg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.