Minnesota Vikings Toss Mascot Ragnar Overboard

 

Minnesota Vikings Toss Mascot Ragnar Overboard

By Burt Carey

 

About 1,150 years ago a Norse king named Ragnar Lodbrok became legendary in his native Scandinavia as a fearless fighter and national hero. Minnesota Vikings mascot Ragnar apparently doesn’t hold that kind of swagger.

Ragnar was noticeably absent from the National Football League club’s home opener against the Detroit Lions Sunday. Joe Juranitch, Juranitch,the man who plays the character of Ragnar replete with a fur jacket, long beard, horned helmet and purple motorcycle, failed to reach agreement on a new contract with the Vikings after reportedly asking for $20,000 per game for the next 10 years.

Now it looks like the Vikings will sail into the future – and a new stadium next year – without the crowed-rousing growls of the only human mascot to work for a professional sports team.

For his part, Juranitch posted a photo of himself on his Facebook page watching the Vikings game at TCF Bank Stadium on television dressed in full Ragnar regalia. “It doesn’t feel right sitting at home,” he posted. “This is not by my choice. I don’t make those decisions… At this point it was made for me. I miss all my fans and your support. Let’s all stay positive as we move forward.”

The Vikings announced Monday that they couldn’t agree to a new contract with Juranitch, whose antics included riding his motorcycle to lead the team out of the tunnel during pregame ceremonies. In 2014 the NFL club reportedly paid Juranitch $1,500 per game as an independent contractor.

Ragnar has been a fixture of the Vikings since 1994. The team adopted an official mascot, Viktor, in 2007.

The Vikings sent the following to media and fans Monday: “This offseason, Joe Juranitch’s (Ragnar) contract with the Vikings expired. Since then the team has had multiple conversations with Joe but has not been able to reach an agreement on his role with the team moving forward. The Vikings greatly appreciate what Ragnar has meant to the organization and to the fans over the last two decades. We intend to honor his 21 seasons on the field during a 2015 Vikings home game and we will welcome him to future ceremonial events. We will always consider Ragnar an important part of Vikings history.”

That wasn’t good enough for some fans, who started an online petition to convince Vikings owner Zygi Wilf to bring Ragnar back. As of Tuesday evening, fewer than 11,000 fans had signed the petition.

In case you’re wondering, Juranitch won’t be standing in a soup line anytime soon. He and his family own Razor Edge Systems in Ely, Minn., a business that sells consumer and commercial-grade sharpeners for knives, meat cutters and just about anything else with a blade.

At $20,000 per game, Juranitch would have become one of the highest paid mascots in professional sports, making $160,000 per season.

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle