Ragnar hasn't heard from Vikings but says 'I believe you'll see me on Sunday'

MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Juranitch -- the man who spent the past 21 seasons as Ragnar, the Minnesota Vikings' "human mascot" -- decided to speak out with his side of the story about his contract dispute with the team this week. And the element of the story that drew the most attention -- Juranitch's request for $20,000 per game -- has been misrepresented, Juranitch told ESPN.com.

Juranitch said the Vikings informed him in August that they'd planned to retire him in 2015, adding they might bring him back for a playoff game or another special appearance in 2015. Juranitch said he'd begun seasons without a contract before, but once the Vikings did not send him credentials for their home opener last Sunday, Juranitch's wife suggested he take a picture of himself in his costume and post it to his Facebook page, informing fans he wasn't at the game.

It wasn't until Monday, Juranitch said, that the Vikings asked him to submit a proposal for the 2015 season. And when he asked for $20,000 per game, he was working under the assumption he was starting a negotiation for one or two appearances in 2015, rather than a deal that would have paid him $160,000 for an eight-game regular season.

"Based on them telling me my role is going to be limited, that’s what I based the contract on," Juranitch said. "If the sticker price on a car says one thing, you negotiate it. They didn’t negotiate anything. I even said, 'You can take the structure of the contract and plug your own numbers in.' They said, 'We wouldn't be interested in that.'

"I sent it over to them about 5 o’clock Monday; they said, 'We can’t accept this contract.' They went ahead and released everything that you saw. I was flabbergasted. I called them Tuesday and said, 'Is there anything salvageable on this contract?' They said no."

The 54-year-old from Ely, Minnesota, who made about $1,500 per game last season, admitted he made a mistake by asking for too much money, adding he would leave any future negotiations to a lawyer or agent. If the Vikings stick with their decision not to bring him back, he said, he'd be open to continuing his character if there's interest in it, though he added, "Where am I really going to go? To a high school known as the Vikings?"

Juranitch said the Vikings never gave him a clear reason for their plan to retire him and added he hadn't heard from the Vikings since they rejected his proposal on Tuesday. However, he said, "I believe you'll see me on Sunday" when the Vikings play the San Diego Chargers at home.

"I think you’re going to see me on the field Sunday, I really do," Juranitch said. "If not, here’s what I will tell everybody: I will still respect their decision. I will be sad; all I’d like to see is my legacy continue. I've been carrying that axe for however many years that my father and I designed and made it. Is that going to end up in a corner all dusty? I’d like to see it in the stadium.

"After 21 years of building this character, with my wife by my side at every single game, to watch her cry and tear up over me feeling bad, it’s like, 'Wow, is this how it’s going to end?' If it is, so be it. If not, let’s put the past behind us and move forward."

A Vikings spokesperson declined comment beyond the statement the team made on Monday, which said the team had not been able to reach an agreement with Juranitch after multiple conversations with him, and thanked Juranitch for his 21 years with the team.