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Where's Ragnar? Vikings fans speak out after absence of team's mascot

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What's a football team called "The Vikings" without...well...a Viking?

The team's stalwart mascot, known as Ragnar, was nowhere to be found during Sunday's home game against the Detroit Lions, and his absence was quite conspicuous for fans who consider him a vital part of Minnesota's football franchise.

It was the first time the bearded barbarian was missing since since he first started riling up stadium-goers 21 years ago, KARE 11 notes.

His absence was a big enough deal that it gave rise to a #BringBackRagnar hashtag on Twitter.

But what does Ragnar himself have to say about it? A Facebook update from the motley mascot (real name Joe Juranitch) said it wasn't "his choice" to sit out the game.

A statement issued by the Vikings late Monday afternoon said Jurantich's contract with the team had expired, and no new contract has been reached.

If you want to chime in on the issue, there's an online petition at

ESPN says Jurantich is a former educator who stepped into Ragnar's shoes in 1994, when he won a contest to become the Vikings' mascot for that season.

Ragnar and his trademark motorcycle have been a hallmark of the NFL team's opening festivities ever since.

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