MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings had a great home opener with a win over the Detroit Lions. But many fans are more focused on someone absent from the field.
Longtime Vikings mascot, Ragnar, posted a picture on Facebook saying he was watching the game from home and it wasn’t his decision.READ MORE: Como Park H.S. Student About To Take Flight As J-ROTC Cadet
The post says, “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.”
Fans immediately took to social media asking the reasoning behind the sudden departure. Many of the Viking faithful also want the Vikings to bring Ragnar back. An online petition had more than 1,100 signatures in just three hours.
“It’s going to be different not to see him out there,” Darrin Wang, a Vikings fan, said.
Since 1994, Ragnar has been part of the game day festivities. Fans know him for his dancing. During the cheerleader dance breaks, Ragnar often tries to keep up.READ MORE: Behind-The-Scenes Of Wildlife Science Center's Mission To Learn All About Wolves
He’s also known for his not-so-subtle entrances. During games, he would ride a Harley onto the field.
“He would come around and pump up the crowd. I saw him dancing with the cheerleaders. I thought it was a fun thing to watch, other than the game,” T.J. Spooner, a Vikings fan, said.
Ragnar, whose real name is Joe Juranitch, didn’t return our calls.
The Minnesota Vikings released a statement on the matter Monday afternoon.
“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,” the statement reads.
The Vikings still have a mascot. A few years ago, the team introduced Viktor the Viking. Viktor is a more traditional, cartoon-type team mascot.MORE NEWS: How Can You Tell If You're Truly Burning Out? What Can You Do About It?