Sports Section Selects: Our Favorite Mascots

Ragnar, pictured here in 2011, was partially phased out by the introduction of the Vikings official anthropomorphic mascot, Viktor the Viking. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

JARED: To get this out of the way, I despise the Philadelphia Flyers. But it’s impossible not to love their mascot, Gritty.

This seven-foot-tall furry orange creature perpetually wearing a Flyers jersey and black hockey helmet is not exactly an animal, object or human. All we know is that he’s the most Gen Z-friendly mascot in the NHL; his humor consists of physically (yet jokingly) pushing people, creating some legitimately funny posts on Twitter, threatening mascots of other teams, messing with TV pundits on live air and even “streaking” during important games.

Prior to his introduction in 2018, the Flyers were one of only two NHL teams not to have a mascot, the other being their rival, the New York Rangers. When Philly executives noticed the amount of community outreach that mascots could accomplish during recent All Star Games, they got to work.

According to his origin story, he lived underground below the site of the Flyers’ arena, the Wells Fargo Center, until recent construction in the area disturbed his dwelling.

Gritty embodies the spirit of Philadelphia sports teams: in-your-face, rough around the edges yet has a hidden soft spot of brotherly love buried deep in his belly. As Bleacher Report put it best, “he might look like a drunk uncle come to life in muppet form, but he was [Philadelphia’s] drunk uncle muppet.”

EMILY: When we think of mascots, we typically think of an animal of sorts that comes to life. Here at New Paltz our beloved mascot is Hugo the Hawk, and although I adore him as much as any one of us, he’s not my all-time favorite. 

For 21 seasons, the Minnesota Vikings were known for having a ‘human’ mascot. Ragnar the Viking became famous for being the only ‘human’ mascot in professional sports. You may now be wondering what a human mascot is since, aren’t all mascots humans? Well yes, but you usually don’t see who is under the big costume. In the case of Ragnar, we saw the non-costumed face of Joe Juranitch riding out on the field on a motorcycle. 

Ragnar still dresses how you think a viking would, with a fur vest and unique helmet, but Juranitch also went out as Juranitch: with his bare shoulders and tattoos exposed.

What I like about Ragnar the Viking was that he was a fun and unique combination of your typical mascot, but it also had that human and personal level there. He rode the motorcycle during team introductions, danced with the cheerleaders and was there at the end zones to fire up fans during big moments. All under a burly beard that he refused to shave in order to stay in character. 

So what happened to him?

Well, sadly, the Vikings had to part ways with Ragnar after they were unable to come to a financial agreement. Juranitch was asking for a 10-year contract that would pay him $20,000 dollars a game. That would come to $1.6 million dollars each season, not even including playoff time. This was a big jump as previously he had been making $1,500 a game.

Needless to say no deal was made and Juranitch and the Vikings parted ways.

I guess that’s the hefty price you pay for being unique.

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About Emily O'Neil 114 Articles
Emily O’Neil is a third-year public relations major with a minor in creative writing, originating from Clifton Park, NY. This is her sixth semester on the Oracle and second as Sports Editor. Her favorite team is the New York Yankees even though they keep disappointing her. You can reach her by emailing