If the Minnesota Vikings have a terrible season it won't be because Adrian Peterson is suspended for whipping his kids again, or because Teddy Bridgewater throws a bunch of interceptions or because their defense gets torched every week. It will likely be because RAGNAR the Viking is not patrolling the sidelines of TCF Stadium on Sundays. Or at least that is what the supporters of Joe Juranitch was have you believe.
Juranitch is the bearded, skullet-wearing guy who dressed up in furs with a horned helmet, a sword and a shield to serve as RAGNAR--a "human mascot" for the Vikes. He even had a purple motorcycle and a snowmobile that he would ride out of the tunnel ahead of the team. For this the Vikings paid him $1500 a game, allow him to watch the game from the sidelines and probably give him a few bucks for making other public appearances on behalf of the team. All in all, a pretty nice part time job that paid about $20,000.
But this summer, Juranitch told the Vikings he wanted $20,000 A GAME to dress up like RAGNAR. In addition, he wanted a TEN YEAR GUARANTEED CONTRACT--meaning the value of the package would be TWO-MILLION DOLLARS!! As you might expect, Vikings management told Juranitch to hit the bricks--they could live without RAGNAR (or find another 100-guys who look like they haven't shaved or showered for a couple of months and who would love to be on the sidelines for a game for FREE).
On Sunday, Jurantich posted a picture to the RAGNAR Facebook page of him in front of the Vikings game on TV in his home--dressed in character--in a pose and with an expression usually found on parents visiting the grave of a recently-deceased child. He told his followers "This is not my decision"--like he was being treated unfairly by the Vikings because they don't want to pay him TWO-MILLION DOLLARS!
I can't help but think about Oshkosh's own "Gang Green"--Robert Wagner--who found himself booted from Lambeau Field for generally annoying all of the other fans (especially my family members) with his self-appointed cheerleading around the stadium--which was nothing more than blocking people's views and generally being belligerent. Wagner has since been followed by "Saint Vince"--the guy who dresses up like the pope and even autographs pictures of himself in the parking lot before games, "The Packelope", "Frozen Tundra Guy" and "Packers Owner Cheesehead Guy". Other teams also have so-called, self-appointed "Superfans" like "Darth Raider" in Oakland, "The Hoggettes" in Washington, and "The Big Dawg" in Cleveland.
A couple of appearances on camera during the game--or a shot or two in NFL Films productions--and these "Superfans" start to think that they are a pretty big deal. They make "personal appearances" on their own, they refer to the team as "we" in all situations and they truly believe that their presence at the stadium provides the players on the field with some sort of motivation to do a little bit better. In reality, these clowns just breed additional attention-hungry fools who try to top each other with more outrageous "personas" hoping to catch the camera's attention as well. Pretty soon, you go from having a stadium full of fans to something that looks like the studio audience for Let's Make a Deal.
So please, RAGNAR and all of your other "Superfans"--just show up at the game in your favorite team shirt, sit in your seat and cheer appropriately for your boys--keeping in mind that the real reason the game is being played is not for you to get your fifteen minutes of glory but instead for everyone to win their fantasy football leagues.