The Minnesota Vikings find themselves in an unusual contract dispute that keeps one of the team’s most cheered performers off the sidelines rather than off the field.
The dispute with Joe “Ragnar” Juranitch, who plays a Viking at the team’s home games, stems from his demands for $20,000 per game as part of a $1.6 million, ten-year contract, according to the Associated Press. The team has balked at Ragnar’s demands and negotiations moved from a standstill to non-existent. The hirsute, motorcycle-riding mascot no longer plies his Viking antics on the sidelines at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Ragnar has taken to Facebook to tell fans that after 21 years as the team’s mascot his disappearance from games is “not by my choice.”
“It doesn’t feel right sitting at home,” Juranitch continued. “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.”
As for the Vikings, they are not talking, though the team did give the Associated Press a statement.
“The Vikings,” the statement says, “greatly appreciate what Ragnar has meant to the organization and to the fans over the last two decades,” the team said. “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.”
So, it looks like the team is standing firm and will not be inviting Ragnar back to the home games.
Many fans unhappy with the whole situation took to Twitter to demand that their favorite rampaging Viking be allowed back on the field.
— Scott Lofquist ن (@ScottLofquist) September 21, 2015
— jensen jewel (@campari327) September 21, 2015
— Webb (@WebbH62) September 21, 2015
$1.6m is like peanuts to the Wilfs. Not saying they should pay that to #Ragnar but honestly, it’s chump change.
— Christina (@xtina1229) September 22, 2015
— Eric Hale (@AirIck1879) September 21, 2015
Fans started an online petition to convince the Vikings to return Ragnar to the field. With their petition, fans hope to “reinstate one of the greatest mascots in the history of the NFL, and sports in general.”
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