Dan Meers, 46, who has played the KC Wolf since the mascot's inception in 1989, was seriously injured Saturday while practicing for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers. No description of Meers' specific injuries was available, but a longtime friend said Meers suffered a serious back injury.
"The injuries appear to be related to the manner in which a third-party company secured the riggings," his attorney, Tim Dollar, said. "However, an investigation is pending."
Kansas City Chiefs spokesman Ted Crews acknowledged Meers' injury Monday but declined to give details about the accident or his condition.
While Meers doesn't perform the zip line routine every game, Dollar said, he was scheduled to do a slight variation of an entrance he'd done earlier this season.
Being the mascot is a full-time job that involves making community appearances on a daily basis, Dollar said.
Meers, who is married and has three children, is part of a close-knit church community that's helping the family, Dollar said.
"They recognize the need to preserve evidence so that it can be investigated and prevent this thing from happening again," Dollar said. "Therefore it was necessary to hire counsel to take over that role while they attend to Dan."
Meers is listed as an executive committee member of the Newark, Del.-based Mascot Hall of Fame. According to its website, Meers previously performed as Fredbird, the St. Louis Cardinals' mascot, and the University of Missouri's mascot Truman the Tiger.
David Raymond, who was the original Phillie Phanatic for 15 years before starting a business training people to be mascots, said acts such as the zip line routine aren't necessarily dangerous with the proper training and professional assistance.
"With anything, there's a certain amount of risk you take," Raymond said. "But I don't think these stunts are dangerous if you have professional people advising you and helping you do them."
Raymond, whose company owns the Mascot Hall of Fame, called Meers "somewhat of a legend in our community" because he was the first NFL mascot created as part of the "new breed" of fan favorites—alongside MLB's Phillie Phanatic and San Diego Chicken.
Rod Handley, a Lee's Summit minister who's known Meers for 24 years, says Meers is an "unbelieveable guy" and is a board member for Handley's ministry, Character That Counts.
"Dan is one of the greatest guys on the Earth," Handley said. "He has a beaming smile always on his face. He's one unbelievable guy."
About 25 friends and church members were at the hospital Sunday when Meers had back surgery, Handley said.
"These are not minor injuries," Handley said. "This is very serious."