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Vikings cut ties with longtime mascot Ragnar

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Vikings mascot seeking massive raise (1:31)

The Dan Le Batard Show reacts to the news that Minnesota Vikings mascot Ragnar the Viking is seeking a massive raise that would pay him $20,000 a game for 10 years. (1:31)

MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Minnesota Vikings emerged from the TCF Bank Stadium tunnel on Sunday, their entrance was missing something: the bearded, long-haired, fur-clad man who'd rode a motorcycle out of the tunnel at Vikings home games for more than 20 years. The team released a statement Monday evening saying it had parted ways with "Ragnar."

Joe Juranitch, the Ely, Minnesota native who'd worked as Ragnar (the Vikings' unofficial "human mascot") since 1994, posted a photo on his Facebook page of him sitting at home, clad in fur and his Viking helmet, watching the team's home opener against the Detroit Lions on TV. With it, he wrote, "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."

Juranitch's contract with the team had expired before the season, and according to a person with knowledge of the situation, he was looking to become a six-figure mascot: he wanted $20,000 per game in a new deal, up from the roughly $1,500 per game he was making in his old deal as an independent contractor.

A former high school security officer and dean, Juranitch won a contest to become the Vikings' new mascot before the 1994 season, and his motorcycle became a fixture during the team's ear-splitting intros at the Metrodome. He continued to appear at home games during the Vikings' first of two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, but wasn't with the team for either of its home preseason games or the home opener on Sunday.

"This offseason, Joe Juranitch's (Ragnar) contract with the Vikings expired," the team said in a statement. "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."

Juranitch's website claims he set a world record in 1982 by shaving his beard with an axe in eight minutes, 43 seconds, as part of a promotion for Razor's Edge Systems -- the family business he still runs today. The company sells everything from industrial meat sharpeners to knife sharpening equipment.

News of Juranitch's absence prompted more than 140 comments on his Facebook page. And yes, there's already a Change.org petition calling for his return.

Juranitch did not return messages seeking comment.