It took folks a while to notice. . .to be honest, I hadn't until now. . .but it appears that a man that has been a fixture at Minnesota Vikings' home games for the last 20 years is no longer on the job.
Joe Jurantich, the man you probably know better as Ragnar, did not lead the Vikings out of the tunnel at Sunday's home opener. He was not at either of the team's two home preseason contests, either. Jurantich won a contest to serve as the team's mascot way back in 1994, and had been revving up his motorcycle and leading the Vikings onto the field for every home game since then. He even made it to Detroit when the Vikings went on their 2010 oddysey after the Metrodome roof collapsed.
However, it appears that Jurantich has been let go by the team. Yesterday, he posted a photo on his FaceBook page with the following 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.
That would seem to be a pretty good indicator that the team has told Ragnar that his services are no longer needed.
This being the internet in 2015 and everything, there's already a petition at Change.org. . .because those have really shaped a lot of higher-level decisions over the years. . .to get Ragnar brought back into the fold.
I don't know the entire story behind why Ragnar is no longer the Vikings' mascot or anything like that, but it is kind of sad to see his time come to an end in an unceremonious manner like this. Here's hoping that the future holds good things for Mr. Jurantich and his family.
UPDATE: Not long after we posted this story, the team released a statement about the Ragnar situation. (Statement comes courtesy of A.J. Mansour of KFAN.)
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.