In case you missed the big news in the NFL last week, let me catch you up. No, I’m not talking Tony Romo‘s devastating injury or Tom Brady ripping Rex Ryan’s defensive manhood. The biggest NFL news in the past few days was the disappearance of longtime Minnesota Vikings human mascot, Ragnar.
The bearded motorcycle riding nordic dude wasn’t abducted by aliens or a vicious cartel. He is simple missing in action at Vikings home games.
Why? Joe Juranitch, who has freelanced as Ragnar since 1994, went Kam Chancellor over the offseason. Yes, the human mascot wanted more money. A lot more.
According to reports, Juranitch wanted a hefty raise that would pay him $20,000 per game. That’s quite a bump from the near $1,500 he had been making for riding his bike on the field during the pregame and playing the role of Ragnar throughout the game. I would imagine those duties would entail looking mean, holding a fake ax, and maybe even drinking mugs full of beer. Probably Budweiser. I doubt a viking would touch light beer.
The Vikings issued a statement basically thanking Joe for his 21 years of “hard work”, but wondering if he was freaking crazy. $20,000 per game?
“This offseason, Joe Juranitch’s (Ragnar) contract with the Vikings expired,” the team said 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.”
Hope the team plans on paying Ragnar to show up to this future ceremony.
I’m not sure if old Joe has an agent or not. If he does, he should fire the guy if he is the one who suggested Joe ask for over a 1,000 percent raise. Mascot work isn’t like the pharmaceutical world. You can’t just pillage recklessly, even if you resemble a real viking.
To Juranitch’s credit he has built a loyal following during his two decades with Minnesota. He posted a sad photo of himself on Facebook dressed in his usual costume watching the game during week one and stated, “It doesn’t feel right sitting at home. 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.”
- “Pretty positive this will work out for you my friend . Can’t wait for tomorrow AM to call in 100 percent support you RAGNAR !
- “Who Will I give peanuts to before the game? And Crack us up dancing with the cheerleaders? Love you Ragnar, we will get you back, or die trying!”
- “Ragnar, I am very confused as to what is going on. Why are you at home for the game? We here in Hibbing, still speak your name with a grateful quiet. What you did for those children was truly God’s work. Thank you so much to you and your wife for being there for that moment. We still remember what you did and will never forget.
Besides the comments there has even been a petition started on Change.org to get the Vikings to bring back Ragnar. Even though the petition apparently has over 10,000 signatures at this point, there’s no way the Vikings can bring Juranitch back. That bridge has been burned, even if he comes to his senses with a more reasonable contract request.
Here are ten unlikely things that could happen before the Minnesota Vikings pay a guy $20,000 to be an unofficial mascot for the team.
- Bill Belichick smiles during a press conference.
- Rob Gronkowski starts taking the game and life more seriously.
- Jerry Jones stops lying to himself and the public about how gifted Brandon Weeden is.
- DeMarco Murray will gain over 100 yards in a game behind Philly’s flimsy line.
- RGIII wins three games as an emergency starter.
- I win $20K on DraftKings this year.
- The Cowboys win the Super Bowl with their walking wounded.
- Someone besides the Patriots win the AFC East.
- The Vikings hire a Kate Upton lookalike to be the unofficial human mascot for the same $1,500 Ragnar used to make. If that happens, all the male fans will forget about the guy who used to have that sweet gig.
- Roger Goodell stops hurting the game of football.
I get that Juranitch feels like he has earned a raise by being Ragnar for the Vikes for over two decades. While I can appreciate that longevity, it’s all about leverage. He has none and was lucky to get $1500 a game. That’s good money for a day’s “work,” and he got to see the game for free.
Trust me, there are plenty of people who would do what was required of Joe Juranitch for free.