MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Ragnar, the popular Vikings mascot, says he believes his time with the team is not over.
He’s speaking out for the first time since the Vikings announced that his contract expired.READ MORE: Minnesota Unemployment Rate Drops To Pre-Pandemic Levels
Sunday night, Ragnar posted a picture to his Facebook page showing him absent from the game, saying it wasn’t his choice.
In a statement, the Vikings said the two couldn’t come to a contract agreement.
For 21 years, Vikings fans have watched Ragnar at every Vikings home game, but this may be the last time we see Joe Juranitch with his mascot gear.
“I did get choked up because I’m not ready to retire,” said Joe Juranitch, the former Vikings mascot. “I don’t want to retire. I’m only 54 years old.”
Juranitch says he knew going into the season his time with the team was in limbo.
“My role was going to be very limited,” Juranitch said. “They were going to go in another direction.”
According to Juranitch, both sides still talked contract every year. But this time, he says, the team asked him to draw up the language.
“I just thought, ‘Why would I put something together?'” he said. “Okay, I’ll do it but be patient with me, and I had a buddy help me put it together.”READ MORE: MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann To Retire Feb. 2
Juranitch would not confirm the dollar amount. He would only confirm the number is out there, referring to an Associated Press report.
The AP report said Juranitch made $1,500 a game. In the new contract, he asked for $20,000 a game.
“Did I ever think the number I put down — that’s where we are going to settle?” he said. “Absolutely not.”
But according to Juranitch, no negotiations followed. Instead he learned his mascot days as Ragnar were over.
On Monday, the Vikings released this statement:
“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 only regret I have is I did not have a professional draw this up,” Juranitch said, referring to his contract.
But Ragnar isn’t ready to put the ax down. He’s fueled by an online petition to save his job. So far, the petition has more than 11,500 signatures. Two decades as the Vikings mascot and that fighting spirit won’t let him quit.
“The fans ain’t ready to let me go,” said Juranitch. “I honestly believe this ain’t over.”MORE NEWS: Teen Reunited With Family After Going Missing In Plymouth
The Vikings didn’t comment on statements made by Juranitch on Friday. Instead, the team referred to their earlier statement released Monday.