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Totally Not Fake News: The Latest Furlough Victim

Toro takes a timeout.

Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Houston, TXWith the recent weekly unemployment claims numbers out, there is a large group of personnel not counted in those figures. These are the furloughed workers, those who are not at work, not officially paid yet not completely laid off either. They may retain benefits, and when the economic situation improves, they go back to their previous employed status. Effective this week, another group of workers joins that economic limbo: NFL Mascots. With the NFL decree that no mascots are allowed on the field for this season, these employees find themselves in a sort of furloughed limbo.

That brings us to Toro, the long-time mascot for the Houston Texans. Fresh off a Pro Bowl year, the blue-hided steer had high aspirations for the coming season.


Getting voted to the Pro Bowl was a huge honor for me. I know there is a growing chorus of fans who think the whole thing is useless and whatnot, but it was tremendous for me. Getting a chance to show off what I’ve done on and off the field, that is an incredible motivation for me. A highlight of the year,

Toro noted to our correspondent, via Zoom, from his ranch outside of the city.

The motivation was sky high after the 2019 season ended. The texts and tweets I got after that loss in KC were ticking me off. Bad enough from the inbred raccoon-thing from Nashville, but then from that overblown coyote/dog-beast from Kansas City…insufferable. It took everything I had not to gore those two when I saw them in the offseason. Still, I was so ready for August. Hell, I was even psyched about the preseason. Was about to bust out some new moves. Try ‘em out for the crowd, ya know? Had everything from a new rappel act to the “People’s Horn” ready to go…but then, like everything else, Corona...

A tear slowly drifted over the suede snout of Toro’s extremely large head.

That [KITTEN]ing virus!!!

Toro bellowed, pounding his hoof down on the table hard enough to crack the center!

Man, I was so hopeful for 2020 and the path to redemption. Then COVID-19 hit in March. Reached out to my boys Clutch and Orbit, seeing how they were handling it. They seemed okay, about as shocked as I was. Orbit was kinda hard to reach, as all those whiny Yankees and Dodgers fans forced him to limit his social media exposure. He said something about shoving some trash cans up their… well, anyway, they were holding up, but like me, didn’t know what would happen.

I was encouraged when I saw Orbit rocking it [after MLB started up]. Put a smile on my face, seeing my bro work it in the stands with all the cardboard cutouts. Weird, and a little creepy, but still, you can’t keep a good alien down. Gave him hell when he didn’t “trash-can” Joe Kelly, but “safety protocols” or some excuse like that. Still, seeing him perform, I was ready to get out there, show my stuff, and let him know that I am the top bull in this city.

The recent NFL announcement stunned the Pro Bowler.

Totally stunned me. Was at home with my cow Elsie and my calves when I saw the news. Of course, I was steamed that I only found out about it via social media and didn’t get a phone call from the team. Thought [Head Coach/General Manager] O’Brien and Cal [McNair, owner] were all about an open environment and rights for all, but I guess that doesn’t extend to loyal bulls. It is what it is.

I mean, I get the worries about protocols and all. Haven’t heard about any of my fellow bovines getting it, but don’t want to be the first. This is how I make my money, how I put hay on the table for my herd. That is a whole year of no work! Talk about making you feel like an ox...just [KITTEN]ing call me Babe.

When asked if he would still try to work in the stands, Toro paused.

Don’t know. I would think so, like Orbit, but I haven’t heard anything. [I] don’t guess they will allow the cheerleaders in, which sucks for me, as I had some great chemistry going with them. Still, dancing in the stands would be a little difficult. Come to think of it, it might be a little confining for me, but I can manage.

Asked what he planned to do in the meantime, Toro noted:

Well, it is not like I’ll just be out to pasture. Got a lot of off-field commitments. Had some good success with virtual outreach to the kids last spring, and hoping to keep that going. Obviously, I have the herd. Got quite the “Bull-Do” list from the cow, like bailing the hay, mucking the fertilizer, cleaning out the bullpen… ya know, all of the normal household stuff. The calves got schoolwork, too.

Toro paused to help one of his calves, Ferdinand, with some homework.

He’s reading up on Mad Cow, seeing if there were any lessons to learn. Also been on Twitter researching that whole Devin Nunes’ Cow thing… kinda weird, but whatever keeps him busy. At least he ain’t out just sniffing the flowers.

When asked about Toro’s status, a spokesperson for the team released at statement

Texans Spokesperson:

We value Toro’s contributions to the team and the City of Houston. We know this is a difficult time for all of us. However, we are working with everyone in the organization to ensure the balance of personal safety and professional obligations. We strive for transparency with our employees and will continue to update them and everyone else on any changes to our operational policies.

As for others within the organization, they understood Toro’s frustration.

Head Coach and General Manager Bill O’Brien :

We miss Toro and value his contributions to the team. We know he will continue to work to be the best mascot he can be.

Off-the-record, some staffers noted that they thought the time off might do Toro some good. Rumors had been circulating throughout the offices that Toro may have been straying from the herd, with unconfirmed reports of him siring other calves.

Toro (when confronted with accusations of bringing calf-mommas around team facilities)

That’s some serious bull [KITTEN!!!]!

I love Elsie and would never stray! Some people just have it in for me. Besides, I already have enough calves. Who do I look like, that Arizona Cardinal receiver guy… what’s his name? Anyway, it is not true!!

As for the upcoming season, Toro noted that he will continue to watch and wait.

Look, as frustrated as I am, I still love my team. The team knows that I will be ready, no matter what. If it is on the field, in the stands or on Tik-Tok, I’m ready.

Clearly this is all in jest and no NFL mascots were harmed in the making of this parody. We just thought you could use a laugh heading into the weekend

- BRB Executive Level Management (posting from Club Med)