Where oh where has Venom gone oh where oh where could he be?
Florida A&M has been without a mascot since the beginning of the season. The story behind the reason varies with each person you ask.
With the mascot being absent, the football team lost a tradition.
The former mascot Curtis Ford, who spent three and a half years in the mask, said he tried to create a new culture for the mascot and the football team.
“I tried to start a few things like leading the football team onto the field every game. Or even running a flag if the cheerleaders didn’t do it,” Ford said.
Ford was passionate about representing the school as its mascot.
However, when he came into Angela Suggs’ office for a routine chat, he was told he was no longer Venom.
“They told me my eligibility was up. That’s how they said it. I went to the office and I had no idea what was going on until I asked,” Ford said.
“They told me they are having tryouts. I said I wanted to tryout and they said, ‘You can’t try out because you have a letterman jacket.'”
Being Venom has a maximum time of four years. According to Ford, Suggs said when he got the jacket he was no longer eligible for the position.
“I had no idea that getting a letterman jacket did that,” Ford said.
“I wasn’t happy about it but there was really nothing I could do. It was something I was really passionate about. It was something I really loved doing, because you represent the entire university.”
Ford said he was fired from the position.
Brandy Tatum, the cheerleading coach and trainer for Venom, said the eight-year-old suit wasn’t safe.
“There is no way to fully clean it. So therefore the sweat residue that comes off of a person is permanently in it. If you haven’t been able to clean that for eight years, then we are putting somebody at risk,” Tatum said. “So, in order to make sure that we have something that is sanitary and that our mascot is in a safe condition with the Florida heat, we needed to get a new one.”
Angela Suggs, the marketing director of FAMU, had no comment when asked about the new mascot.
Tatum said it will take up to nine months for the new Venom costume to arrive. Tryouts and an arrival date for the uniform are unknown.
Coach Joe Taylor said he didn’t notice that Venom wasn’t on the sideline.
“I am so locked in on what’s going on on the field, I really haven’t noticed. I would hope that would be remedied. You just appreciate the work that goes into the compassion for your school,” Taylor said.
“When I hear the band or hear the cheerleaders, I always think that person is there as well. Just like the cheerleaders and the band, to me, the mascot’s role is just as important to having school spirit.”