By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings rebound from a Week 1 disaster to defeat the Detroit Lions in Week 2 at TCF Bank Stadium. However, the game has become a footnote due to a contract dispute between the team and mascot Ragnar, portrayed by Joe Juranitch.
After making $1,500 per game as an independent contractor, Juranitch was looking for a 10-year contract that would pay him $20,000 per game, according to Arash Markazi of ESPN. That amounts to $2 million over the next decade for eight regular season and two preseason games. He was looking to become one of the highest mascots in sports.
During Sunday’s victory, Juranitch posted a picture of himself watching the Vikings game on television at home on Facebook with the caption that read, “It doesn’t feel right sitting at home. This is not by 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.”
Within 24 hours, more than 10,000 supporters signed an online petition to bring Ragnar back. The Vikings have not reached a deal with Juranitch, but the team released a statement saying that they “will always consider Ragnar an important part of Vikings history” and they would honor his 21 seasons with an on-field celebration during a home game this season.
The original Phillie Phanatic, Dave Raymond, now runs a character branding and mascot training company. He believes Juranitch priced himself out of the market.
“If you’re talking about paying someone the money he was asking for, that would mean the Vikings would have to be capitalizing on a half a million dollars’ worth of revenue to make that worthwhile,” he said via ESPN. “I think the simple answer to what’s happened here is you have somebody who overvalued what they gave the franchise. It doesn’t mean that he wasn’t good. It doesn’t mean that the fans didn’t like him. It just means from the business perspective, he overvalued his worth.”
Lions WR Tate cries foul
Golden Tate wasn’t too happy with the way the Vikings played Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. He is “110 percent” certain that the Vikings took cheap shots during and after plays during their 26-16 victory. He wouldn’t give more detail about specific plays or infractions.
“After watching the film, there were several holds, late hits that I think should have been called and a couple of them I wouldn’t be surprised if we turned them in,” Tate said Monday via ESPN’s Lions webpage. “But then again, that’s part of playing on the road. You got to control that by not making the game close and busting it wide open, so that’s what we should have done better, but there were a few plays out there I think were clear violations of this game.”
The Vikings were flagged once for unnecessary roughness when Anthony Barr shoved Matthew Stafford as the quarterback was going out-of-bounds. Zimmer wasn’t too happy with his second-year linebacker.
“Anthony, for some reason, he got upset about something during the game and the guy, he slowed down when he stepped out of bounds, but he was out of bounds. There’s no need to do that,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said during his weekly press conference. “We want to play tough, clean, smart football, and that was not tough, clean and smart.”
The Vikings defense was credited with getting eight hits on Stafford. The 27-year-old former No. 1 overall draft pick had x-rays on his ribs and chest following the game and is considered questionable at this point for the Lions’ Sunday game against the Denver Broncos.
Vikings installing breastfeeding pods
The Vikings will have two Mamava lactation pods at the team’s Winter Park headquarters as well as two more at TCF Bank Stadium. The team will continue providing breastfeeding accommodations for mothers at US Bank Stadium beyond this season.
“Creating a family-friendly environment and a positive experience for all fans at our football games is paramount to the Minnesota Vikings,” chief operating officer Kevin Warren said via the team’s official website. “While we certainly encourage breastfeeding mothers to nurse where they feel comfortable, we have become increasingly aware of the need many moms have for the privacy and comfort that these Mamava lactation suites provide. In addition, we are always striving to create the most positive workplace environment within our organizations and the pods at our two headquarters will benefit many of our female employees.”
Mamava is a company dedicated to transforming the culture of breastfeeding and allowing women to breastfeed easily and conveniently. The company created the mobile suites equipped with comfortable benches, an electrical outlet and a lockable door for privacy. The pods measure 4-feet by 8-feet with enough room to hold another child if necessary.
“Until now, female NFL fans who have wanted privacy for feeding have had to nurse or pump in a bathroom, or worse yet, stay home due to the lack of amenities for nursing” Mamava co-founder Sascha Mayer said via the Vikings’ official website. “We believe that all mamas deserve a safe, clean and comfortable place to use a breast pump or breastfeed – anywhere, anytime. Mamava pods provide flexibility for facilities and easy access for moms.”
The Vikings expect to have the suites installed and available for use prior to the team’s Oct. 18 home game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.