MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The Minnesota Vikings mascot, Ragnar, watched the home opener from his own home this Sunday, according to a Facebook post, and fans aren't pleased. The Vikings followed up with a statement Monday that his contract expired and an agreement was not reached.
“This offseason, Joe Juranitch’s (Ragnar) contract with the Vikings expired. Since then the team has had multiple conversations with Joe but has not been able to reach an agreement on his role with the team moving forward.
The Vikings greatly appreciate what Ragnar has meant to the organization and to the fans over the last two decades. 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.”
Ragnar's Facebook post
Ragnar published a photo of his forlorn, helmet-clad self with the caption, “It doesn't feel right sitting at home. 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.”
Well wishes and comments from fans multiplied beneath the Facebook post, even the hashtag initiative #bringbackragnar. It’s unclear why he was sidelined on Sunday, but he has been a fixture at games since his first appearance in 1994 when the Vikings beat the Kansas City Chiefs, his website details.
A Change.org petition, "Reinstate Ragnar as the Minnesota Vikings Mascot," by a Brad Onstad in Champlin, Minn. garnered over 350 signatures in about two hours on Monday, along with a slew of comments demanding his return. Here are a few notable ones:
"Ragnar is the best and only real life talking mascot in professional sports. He a very classy mascot and doesn't act or do stupid things like other mascots do. He is a true professional and the Vikings should very proud to have him. Shame on the Vikings, I'm A die hard fan and this us very disappointing. BRING RAGNAR BACK!!!!!!!!" - Bryan Edlund, Ely
"Ragnar is inspiring. He is not a silly puppet character, like what most teams use. Ragnar is the symbol of the Vikings, and dismissing him is both disrespectful and ridiculous for a fan favorite that has shown more loyalty than almost anybody for the Vikings." - Erik Haselius, Big Lake
"Infuriated that anyone would think that a cartoon character that resembles Barney the Dinosaur would be a better Mascot than Ragnar??? Lifelong fan that wants answners!" - Jason Bible, Hager City, Wis.