Inside the furry suit: The Fordham Ram is enjoying a comeback

Ryan Thornton pals around with Fordham's football team. Credit: Vinny Dusovic
Ryan Thornton pals around with Fordham’s football team.
Credit: Vinny Dusovic

Ask any recent Fordham alum about the university’s sports teams, and you might get a bit of a snicker. Despite Fordham’s famed sports history — Vince Lombardi was a football player on the Seven Blocks of Granite, the lineup that dominated the 1930s — lately the school’s point of pride has been academics and proximity to Manhattan.

But all that changed this year: Fordham’s football team is currently 12-1, a school record for most wins in a season. The team won its first-ever home NCAA FCS playoff game against Sacred Heart on Saturday; next week, it takes on Towson.

Standing in the center of the action is Fordham sophomore Ryan Thornton, the Nutley, N.J., native who’s been the Ram mascot since his second semester of freshman year. He says a lifelong love of Fordham sports motivated him to become the campus’ famous tumbling ball of fur.

“Both of my parents graduated from Fordham, and as a kid I would always go to Fordham games,” he says. “The Ram was always my favorite guy to go up to and give a high-five to. I always told my parents, ‘I’m gonna be the Ram one day.’”

After a tryout with the school cheerleaders, Thornton got the job. He says he goes to the gym about twice a week because being the Ram requires a good deal of athleticism.

“You’re constantly walking around, walking up and down stairs, jumping around on the court, getting the fans pumped up,” Thornton says. Not to mention — no surprise here — he has to perform in an extremely hot costume, the head of which alone weighs about 30 pounds. “It definitely gives you a strong neck,” Thornton says.

Only a select few of Thornton’s friends know of his high profile gig.

“Some of them have gotten suspicious over the months — ‘Where are you going? Why aren’t you going to the game with us?’ I’ve told my very close friends, but I do like it more of a secret because that’s a cool aspect of the whole thing. The mascot never takes off the head. No one ever knows the identity. I think it’s a tradition.”

At the game

Thornton, who says he hopes to be the Ram until he graduates, says the mascot’s personality can change from game to game. “I do like being a fierce ram — the animal itself is actually very aggressive, so I definitely am rowdy on the court and on the football field, and I definitely make sure that fans get pumped up,” he says.

He gets them energized by dancing, but he also wins a lot of attention by being a more approachable beast, too. “I make sure I’m friendly though — I go up into the crowd, give high fives to people, take pictures with young children and families.”

It can be hard to keep the crowd on its feet when a team isn’t doing so well, but Thornton tries to channel positivity through the Ram.

“You just gotta keep clapping, lifting your hands, try to get the crowd to stand up and support the team,” he says. “The team has to feed off the crowd.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

D.A. Williams opens new unit to focus exclusively…

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday that he has opened a new unit focused entirely on investigating wrongful conviction claims.

Local

BSL, El to run all night on summer…

Officials announced this week that it would institute a pilot program this summer that would keep the El operational from 5 a.m. Friday morning until midnight Monday morning starting in…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

Arts

Peek behind the scenes at the Academy of…

Generations of visitors have marveled at the dioramas in the Academy of Natural Sciences, watching apprehensively at the puma perpetually poised to attack the unsuspecting…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.