I hereby offer to replace Ragnar, the Cast-Off Vikings Mascot.

To be honest, I preferred the old Vikings mascot, Hub Meeds. More dignified. An explorer, not a pillager. Ragnar had the look of someone who would light his beard on fire and bob for grenades in a tub of gas. I know that’s what the fans liked, and he embodied the spirit of pure madness that afflicts the brain after watching the Vikes for many years. He rode a motorcycle, which I do not believe was historically accurate.

But he was a familiar face — what you could see, anyway — and I imagine many fans are crestfallen. Obviously, a suitable replacement is needed.

That’s where I come in. Granted, I stopped watching football years ago when I actually found myself saying things like, “That ref has it in for us.”

My expertise was never great, but I enjoyed watching the game with fellow men and springing to my feet to cry, “There’s no way that penalty for kicking the rougher was valid, gents.” Or something like that. I got tired of feeling that tight knot in your gut when it’s inches and seconds left, and you know they’re not going to get it in, even if the roof of the Metronome peeled open and Bud Grant descended on a cloud, calling the play through a golden trumpet.

Now, you may think that a 5-foot, 4-inch middle-aged man with poor eyesight is a strange choice for a football mascot, but hear me out.

I can already raise both arms simultaneously. This seems to be a prerequisite. When things are going poorly, the mascot raises his hands, and people miraculously regain their confidence. Behold my armpits, and take heart!

Of course there’s more to it than that, but with practice I should be able to master the difficult raised-arms/double-fist-pump maneuver, which is reserved for moments when you’ve scored, or the opposing team’s quarterback has had his bell rung so hard he thinks it’s Easter in Rome.

I would not enter on a motorcycle, but would bike onto the field as a demonstration of the team’s commitment to sustainable energy and a robust variety of transit options.

My fee will be reasonable: parking validation.

I will reflect the inevitable fading playoff hopes and fail to show up for the last three games.

Finally, my Norse name will be Hrímgrímnir, which means “he who is trying to speak though his jaws are wired together.” He was a mythical giant who lived in the land where nothing was alive, which I believe is a reference to AstroTurf.

Why me? I believe I will stand as a beacon of hope to people who were required to contribute to the construction of the Vikings stadium but wonder how they’ll dig up the money to pay for a ticket to get inside.

It makes you wonder about other sports mascots, and what they’re paid. You might wonder if Goldie Gopher is actually several dozen people who were behind on their student loans and are working off the debt in the old traditional way, namely, overly enthusiastic pantomime.

Crunch, the Timberwolves mascot, is no doubt compensated, because the phrase “put on this suit that’s been previously worn by profusely sweating strangers” is usually accompanied by a monetary offer.

The Saints have a rotating series of pig-based mascots, after Pig’s Eye Parrant, early St. Paul settler. This year it is Stephen Colboar, after the popular TV personality.

Other companies should have mascots. For a while it seemed as if Target had a mascot, Bullseye the Dog, but he was put down after mauling three clerks. (NOT TRUE, he said, for legal reasons.) Don’t know what Medtronic would have, since a pacemaker is a hard thing to render in mascot form; a giant heart walking around the corporate lobby with a cattle prod probably isn’t good PR.

Pillsbury has Poppin’ Fresh, the beloved Doughboy who is always reminding us that he’s different from all the other yeasty raw material because he is self-aware. You wouldn’t bake me! I have consciousness! Tee-hee! Go ahead, poke me in the tummy and I giggle, despite the stabbing pain!

General Mills had the Green Giant, but they’re selling him off. I’m conflicted about this. On one hand, he was a Minnesota icon. On the other, an enormous mass of sentient vegetation is rather terrifying. To a small child the idea of a massive biped who stands in a field laughing about broccoli is disturbing, which is why they had to invent the mascot Sprout, a small child whom the Giant apparently won in a custody battle.

We never met Mrs. Green Giant, and it’s possible she’s sitting in a Le Sueur tavern as we speak, eager to tell anyone who asks what it was really like to live with Green. People think he’s so great. You got no idea. It was alllll about the Niblets with that one.

In short, our mascot production has stagnated. Ragnar’s gone. Menards has pictures of Ray, the Menards Guy, but no actual Ray, not even in felt-skinned form. As far as I know, the only remaining evidence of Minnie, the American Indian mascot for long-gone Minnegasco, exists as a picture on a manhole cover in downtown Minneapolis a few blocks from the new stadium.

Perhaps we’ve just outgrown mascots. Perhaps we can get into the game without someone in costume to lead us.

If so, I’m really the perfect candidate. I won’t show up and I won’t charge anything! And I’ll probably be fired the next year when I double my fee.

 

jlileks@startribune.com 612-673-7858