At the onset of the 2015 season, reports emerged that human mascot “Ragnar” had priced himself out of employment with the Minnesota Vikings organization after he caused a stir by posting a picture of himself watching Minnesota’s first home game from his own house.
Those reports indicated that Ragnar was asking for a 10 year contract at $20,000 per game, which was a million and a half dollars (actually more) that the Vikings apparently were not willing to commit to.
The last time we heard from Ragnar was just prior to the Vikings January matchup with Green Bay where he was the focus of a silly televised skit that ended with him replacing his horns with a cheesehead.
Joseph Juranitch, the real life man behind the the Ragnar persona, was recently the subject of a Vikings Journal two part interview (Part One Link & Part Two Link) with Joe Johnson. What he says suggests that his demands were perhaps not as greedy as last year’s reports would have us believe, and that poor communication from Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren may be to blame for the way things played out in public.
Juranitch explained that he often went into seasons without a contract executed because of delays caused by language having to do with who owned his likeness. It wasn’t until the Vikings ignored his requests for information regarding his training camp duties that he suspected something was up.
“I then got a call July 27 from the C.O.O. saying the Vikings are going in a different direction and not have a ‘live mascot’ anymore,” said Juranitch.
He then went on to explain that the Vikings planned to “retire” Ragnar, host a “Ragnar Day,” and compensate Juranitch $15,000 for the remaining appearance requirements. They were also interested in a merchandise deal that would allow “Ragnar” memorabilia to be sold during this “Ragnar Day.”
“There never was negotiations,” he recalls.
It wasn’t until that first home game, and Ragnar’s post on social media, that the issue was escalated. Juranitch says his post caused the media and fans to start calling the Vikings and that this didn’t sit well with “the C.O.O.”
(NOTE: Juranitch doesn’t name Warren by name in this interview… but he is the C.O.O. so I’m assuming this is who he speaks of.)
This is where the story becomes a little unclear, at least to me, but it sounds like Warren then called Ragnar wanting to resolve this matter quickly. He asked Juranitch to write up a proposal and send it over so that the media could be informed of the situation.
It sounds like Ragnar wrote the proposal assuming he was only being asked to participate in “Ragnar Day” and one other appearance, which the Vikings had already offered $15,000 for, so he wrote a proposal up for $20,000 and included a statement that he’d like to be the mascot for the next ten years.
Juranitch then states that it was an hour later that the Vikings informed the press that contract negotiations could not be resolved and that the organization opted to part ways. An hour later, as Juranitch recalls, the Pioneer Press published a report citing sources that Ragnar wanted $20,000 per game for 10 years.
“In their press release to the Media they stated they would have me back for 1 game,” says Juranitch, “But I have heard nothing from them.”
Ragnar, who still makes in-character appearances separate from the official team events, said that his FOX Sports skit that drew so much ire was just meant to be humorous and fun. It wasn’t his idea, he says, and he wasn’t compensated for it. FOX contacted him and he didn’t see any harm in doing it.
“Nope,” he responded when asked if he was now a Green Bay fan. “Never jumped ship or went over to ANY other side.”
In related news passed along by Adam Patrick, one of Ragnar’s famous Harley Davidson motorcycles is now available for purchase via Craigslist. The 1978 bike, which is not the same one mentioned in detail in our recent article about “Sir Gruben,” is listed with an asking price of $7,495 and comes with original steer horns that were a trademark of Ragnar’s entrance into the Metrodome for so many years.
The Joe Johnson interview with Ragnar is well worth a read and I encourage you to do so. We chose to focus on the part surrounding his departure, but there is plenty more fun to be had by reading these, including a couple fun trips down Memory Lane. CLICK HERE for part one and CLICK HERE for part two.