Ragnar, the Vikings’ unofficial mascot, and his motorcycle have been a fixture at Minnesota Vikings games for over two decades, but that appears to be over as the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement on a new contract.
Ragnar, whose real name is Joe Juranitch, was seeking a new contract that would pay him $20,000 per game, according to Michael Rand of the Star Tribune. That would translate to an annual salary of $200,000 for eight regular season and two preseason games, and an increase of more than 1,200% from his previous pay of “about $1,500 per game” last season.
Juranitch has served as an unofficial mascot for 21 season, but was not at the Vikings home opener on Sunday. He posted this message on his Facebook page.
The Vikings released a statement (via the Star Tribune) that makes it sound like they are ready to move on without Juranitch, thanking him for his service and promising to honor him at a game this season.
“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.”
A petition to have Ragnar reinstated as mascot at Change.org has already received more than 9,000 signatures at the time of this writing.
We have reached out to both the Vikings and Juranitch for comment.