The serious-minded readers of these pages and associated website may have mixed feelings about sports mascots. Indeed, with all of the complex issues facing us these days, who has time for such frivolity?
Well, we do — at least when the subject in question is our beloved Ragnar, the longtime Minnesota Vikings mascot who apparently has taken his last ride on his purple and gold chopper. The bearded Viking, known out of costume by the name Joe Juranitch, had served the team and its fans with aplomb since winning a tryout for the job in 1994. He could always be counted on to give his best effort, even when things weren’t going well for his co-workers on the field.
Although details were sketchy, the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand reported that Ragnar had asked for a raise from $1,500 a game to $20,000 per contest over the next 10 years. Even with all of the money sloshing around the National Football League these days, it’s understandable that the Vikings were content to move along with Viktor, the cute but anonymous mascot who has shared the stage with Ragnar since 2007.
Although we have nothing against Viktor, Ragnar’s throwback horned headgear and persona will be missed. He might not have been the face of the franchise, but he was one of its most endearing — and enduring — characters.
The Vikings plan to honor their newly retired mascot during a 2015 game. In the meantime, here’s an enthusiastic “Skol, Ragnar!” for a job well done.