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Vikings mascot Ragnar appears to be out

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ragnar, the horn-helmed, fur-donning Vikings mascot who's roamed the home turf for more than two decades, appears to be on the outs with the team.

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Joe Juranitch

MINNEAPOLIS - Ragnar, the horn-helmed, fur-donning Vikings mascot who's roamed the home turf for more than two decades, appears to be on the outs with the team.

In a Facebook post Sunday , Joe Juranitch - the real name of the Ely, Minn., native under all the warrior trappings - shared a picture of himself in costume, watching the game on TV at home, holding a battle ax and looking forlorn.
"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," he wrote "I miss all my fans and your support ... let's all stay positive as we move forward."
A number of fans noted his absence when he wasn't working the crowd during Sunday's home opener. The team hasn't made an official announcement and didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Juranitch hasn't elaborated on what happened.
The 54-year-old has been with the team since winning a tryout in 1994. He's known for his Vikings-themed Harley Davidson and a shaggy beard he once shaved with an ax.
A number of fans replied to his Facebook post - which has more than 180 comments so far - distraught.
"Not right. This makes me so sad," wrote one. "FREE RAGNAR!" said another.
Wrote another: "Even as a Packers fan, we know there are certain traditions that you do not mess with."
A Change.org petition asking for his reinstatement garnered more than 1,100 supporters in a few hours Monday.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner of Forum News Service.

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