Like many Philadelphia Flyers fans, Jimmy Lardani was a little skeptical about the unveiling of the team's mascot, Gritty. But he eventually came around and accepted the internet's new favorite fur ball.
Lardani gave Gritty a place in his heart, and more impressively, on his right calf, getting a tattoo of the popular mascot's face. Shortly after posting a photo of it to Instagram, Lardani, like Gritty, became a viral star.
The operator of Lorraine, a bar in the North Philadelphia section of town, Lardani, 44, said a now-famous GIF of Gritty helped his change of heart.
"The GIF where he has his back to the camera and he turns around and he has just a terrifying look on his face and the googly eyes," Lardani told NHL.com. "That's when I thought this guy is a man of the people of Philadelphia. This guy has seen some things."
The 44-year-old knew what his next move would be. He texted his friend, Steve Fawley of Havertown Electric Tattoo, and an idea was born for Lardani's 26th tattoo.
He also texted his brother, Chris. That message simply said, "Gritty tattoo imminent."
Imagine Jimmy's shock when his brother sent him back a screencap of a conversation he was having with his friend about getting Gritty ink. Chris' appointment is next week.
"I won the race," Jimmy said.
Gritty continued his rise to internet stardom, dancing on the Philadelphia Phillies dugout with the Phillie Phanatic during a game Saturday.
Lardani got the tattoo of a wide-eyed, wide-smiling Gritty face with the phrase "CHAOS REIGNS" over his head (a nod to the horror movie "Antichrist," he said) on Friday, four days after Gritty was unveiled.
After a day to reflect, was there any buyer's remorse?
"Absolutely not. The thing about tattoos is they are permanent," he said with a laugh. "And they are like a snapshot in time."
Though Lardani has gotten a mostly positive reaction, there have been plenty of wild social media comments about his choice.
"I think the 15 minutes on this thing are almost up," he said. "I was talking with my fiancee, Tina, and we were saying, 'Imagine what actual famous people go through every day and the comments they get?'"
Lardani said Fawley had already done another Gritty-themed piece for a customer on Saturday.
"I guess I maybe started a trend," Lardani said.