In 1982 a man called Joe was awarded the world record for shaving a beard with an axe in 8 minutes and 43 seconds, an achievement that stands to this very day .
Joseph Juranitch, or Joe, would find fame not for his niche toilette, nor for his seasonal work as a Father Christmas impersonator, but as Ragnar, the burly bewhiskered viking that proudly led the Minnesota Vikings onto the pitch for a total of 21 years.
Since he first began channelling his inner Scandinavian in 1994, Joe never missed a game. Until last week, that is, when contractual discussions broke down following demands for $20,000 every appearance he made at an NFL game.
Seated proudly astride a purple motorcycle clad in furs and the essential horned helmet, Ragnar struck the fear of Valhalla into the hearts of any of the Midwestern team’s opponents.
However, this gentle giant had a softer side. Joined in 2007 by the quite obviously inferior foam-headed Viktor the Viking, the Norse legend had previously been paid $1,500 to lead the team onto the pitch.
So what possessed Juranitch to attempt to plunder the Viking’s war chest to the tune of 1,200% more than he had been previously paid?
In a recent interview with ESPN, Ragnar, stated that although the Vikings had started seasons before without finalising contractual agreements, this year he was informed of he NFL team’s intentions to reduce his appearances to special occasions only.
Juranitch, who learned sign language in order for Ragnar to communicate with the Vikings’ hearing impaired fans, admits that he was wrong to initially suggest such a high wage but maintains that he never expected the Scandi scandal to escalate so quickly.
“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.”
The sorry truth is that the Minnesota Vikings are currently advertising for a replacement Ragnar, specifying that any applicant must have a minimum of 4 seasons of collegiate and/or professional mascot experience, be able to coordinate Viktor’s schedule and book appearances and a familiarity with Outlook, Excel, Power Point, and Photoshop.
Nevertheless, one can only hope that Ragnar is restored to his rightful position and that this hairy situation can be put far behind him.