It might be time for Ragnar to get a new agent (if he has one).
After 21 years on the sidelines, the motorcycle-revving Minnesota Vikings mascot was nowhere to be found at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday as the team slayed the Detroit Lions. The Viking warrior posted a sad-face picture of himself in full regalia, battle ax at the ready, watching the game on TV.
“It doesn't feel right sitting at home,” the real-life Joe Juranitch wrote. “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.”
Using the hashtag #BringBackRagnar, fans avowed their allegiance to the bearded crowd-rouser, who overcame alcoholism and beat out 3,000 applicants for the gig back in 1993. An online petition calling for Juranitch’s return had nearly 8,600 signatures by Tuesday morning.
The official word from the Vikings is that the two sides couldn’t come to terms on a new deal – contractual gridlock normally reserved for multimillion-dollar athletes, not beloved pregame instigators. The onetime hall monitor at Hopkins High School was reportedly asking for $20,000 per game over the next 10 years, a massive raise from the $1,500 he had been making.
“This offseason, Joe Juranitch’s (Ragnar) contract with the Vikings expired,” the Vikings wrote in a statement. “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.”
With eight home games a year, Juranitch’s asking price would have paid him $1.6 million over a decade, which might have been a nice twilight contract for the fifty-something mascot. But football and professionally cheering for it are young man’s games. The Vikes seem content rolling with the younger, cartoonier Viktor Viking, who purports to be “100% Viking, 100% of the time!”
Juranitch was not immediately reached for comment, as he was likely busy updating his Linked In profile. Unfortunately for the recalcitrant fur ball, it’s a tough market for Viking bikers looking to make $160,000 a year for eight days of work.
Whether or not Ragnar's worth six figures, he will clearly be missed.
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