General News

Ragnar Returns: “There Never Was Negotiations”

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.

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Adam Warwas

Adam Warwas (Founder) has been writing about the Vikings for a total of eight years. Five of those years have been here at Vikings Territory where he continues to surround himself with enough talented individuals that people keep coming back. As proud as he is of what Vikings Territory has become, his real treasures are in his home... a beautiful wife and three amazing children (and a dog named Percy).

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  1. How about he quits seeking attention and stays away, it’s starting to sound like a really awkward break up. On top of everything else that stupid cheese head video he made is reason enough to never hear from him again,regardless if it wasn’t his idea, he was dumb enough to do it, all for attention. Go away. There now there’s your break up.

        1. Huh, I didn’t realize I was enough of a public figure for you to judge me, what article are you drawing your conclusion D.A., or video I made. Methinks you should join Ragnar.

          1. Juranitch didn’t seek anyone’s attention to re-hash his split with the team; he was approached by Joe Johnson for the interview and asked about the break-up. And your response is to criticize him for attention-seeking (wrong) and call him a horse’s a** and delusional when all he is doing is answering a journalist’s questions and trying to set the record straight. So yeah, I think your behavior in this matter has been mean-spirited, wrong-headed and knee-jerky.

    1. Ah, the famous last words of many a performer and creative artist who ended up in the poor house while the bosses made buckets of dough off the work of said performers and creative types.

      1. ck, I don’t understand.. You have always been a sane poster. Please explain. To me, he is just a guy with a long beard, has fun at the games, can drive a Harley. Not exactly qualifications that would be hard to find. I can’t see how anyone has made buckets of dough from him. He made some doing ads, had the best seats in the house, got to mingle with the fans and cheerleaders. As far as that goes, the cheerleaders work harder to perform (rehearse) than Ragnar. Unless the press was full of bs (which is totally possible), he tried to get paid more money per game than most people make in a year.

        1. Luv, have you read the interview yet? The reason why I ask is because some of your points are dealt with in the interview. For instance, whatever his qualifications for the job or the marketability of the Ragnar character, Juranitch tells Johnson that every year, the Vikings put language in his contract about sharing the rights to the Ragnar character, including any way to monetize the character (action figures, t-shirts, etc.). And every year, Juranitch crossed out that language to retain the full rights to Ragnar to himself and then signed the contract. In other words, while the Vikings didn’t aggressively pursue the matter or try to re-cast the role, they did make an annual attempt at gaining a stake in the Ragnar character. My response to Len Krause was along the lines of “be careful what you wish for” because I know of a hell of a lot of comic book writers and artists who have never gotten any royalties from any of the movies or merchandise based on characters that they created. And ditto for any number of classic pop, soul and rock musicians.

          Juranitch also claims in the interview hat he was not trying to soak the team with a new contract. The story and timeline is a bit torturous, but basically it comes down to the Vikings didn’t send him the usual contract, told him a number of times that they would, but the season started and he posted the photo on his website about missing the game and it not being his choice. That got some press and the team finally told Juranitch that they wanted to move in a different direction, retire the character, etc., etc. Juranitch claims that the $20,000 (not more than most people make in a year, of course) he requested was for the retirement day and activities that the team had proposed, not a per game rate for the next 10 years, but the latter spin was leaked to the Pioneer Press, most likely by a team source. Read the full interview, it’s actually pretty interesting and covers more than just the split with the team.

          “You have always been a sane poster.” Thank you, but this statement is going to ruin my reputation.:)

          1. Thank you for taking the time to explain to me ck. Yep, you are stuck with my opinion, sane, I will also add deep and intelligent, poster. I knew there had to be a rational explanation to your stance. My statement regarding income was based on what I thought I remembered from about a year ago now.. Did he not request a contract for around a mil per year? That being the case it would break down to about 100 grand per game. That was my basis regarding the monetary statement. Total B.S. that he would not have exclusivity to any profits from merchandise that bear his image. The image is him, not some stereotypical, random “norse man” that he happens to resemble. The media did not portray his side of the story at all. Imagine that!
            SKOL Vikes brother.. and thank you again for taking the time to break down and condense the story. Perhaps you will have to change your handle to Reader’s Digest!!

          2. Forgot to mention.. Yeah, the are hosing him and making money from his character if they are selling anything at all with him on it and profiting. I apologize, and I stand corrected.

  2. For the love of… WHY am I reading about this guy again? It’s bad enough that he showed up on Vikings news feeds, including on national sites like ESPN, seemingly every other week last season but if it continues into another year I’m going to… I’m going complain in the comments sections I guess. Seriously though, enough about Ragnar. Please.

  3. Always thought the bit with the motorcycle was ‘cheesy’; he exuded a Gothic and or Renaissance, if you will, quality that compromised his character. Guy in the 70’s was better.

    1. Ok, I don’t see it but if that is your honest opinion. I thought that he was funny. He certainly gave me some chuckles the way he would try to mimic the cheerleader’s moves. I also thought it was fun when he would come cruising through the lot on Washington back in the day. He seemed very nice and open, parked the bike and chatted with us, genuine would be a good description. I was shocked when I read of the dollar amount he was supposedly demanding that was reported. Turns out there is far more to this story than what was reported.

  4. Would have taken the 15k. Disappointed of course, but thankful to Vikings for the ride and the 15k. Wish this guy would go away, it’s over.

    1. FYI, he didn’t seek out the interview, the journalist sought him out. Also, he still does the occasional gig as Ragnar. I don’t know if they are paid or he donates his time for charity, but I don’t see why he should “go away.”

  5. Joe seems like a good dude, maybe it was just time for his run to be over. The story of how it went wrong is fishy, being it was Kevin Warren…I tend to believe Joe.
    BUT, old Joseph put a cheeshead on and said “go pack go”.

    1. He did completely burn his bridges behind him doing that cc. Although it was a bit funny, I was also a bit shocked when I saw that video. The door might have still been open for him sometime in the future. If he would have garnered fan support and had fans clamoring for his return.. who knows? I took Ck’s advice, and I have been convinced. The Vikings were trying to be cheapskates, trying to get him to sign away merchandising rights. Billionaires trying to keep money that would truly mean nothing to them out of the hands of a guy.. Ck explains it better than me.