First Ditka, now Ragnar.
Which rival’s representative will next doom the Packers?
Green Bay’s four-year reign as division champions ended after Sunday’s defeat against Minnesota, and its 3-3 record within the NFC North was its worst since 2005. The Packers lost to each of their divisional opponents at home this season, the first time that’s happened since 1968.
So what’s to blame for the demise of Green Bay’s divisional dominance? Aside, of course, from Jordy Nelson wrecking his knee, Aaron Rodgers proving to be human, injuries along the offensive line, inconsistency among the running backs, occasional invisibility of wide receivers, a statistically average defense that was suspect against the run and didn’t force enough turnovers, a bit of coaching instability, etc.
Why, jinxing idols, of course!
In October, legendary Bears head coach Mike Ditka donned a Packers sweatshirt in a McDonald’s TV commercial. After the advertisement (curse) ran, Green Bay lost three straight games and, in Week 12, fell to Chicago at Lambeau Field.
Then, before the game against Minnesota, in a prerecorded FOX NFL Kickoff segment, longtime Vikings mascot Ragnar ditched his hornet helmet for a cheesehead hat and wandered into a wintry forest muttering, "Go Pack, go."
The NFC North turncoating caused quite a stir on social media, with Joe Juranitch, the man who portrayed Ragnar for 21 years before parting ways with the team due to a monetary disagreement, drawing the ire of Vikings fans and salutations from Packer Nation.
Side note: The best part of the video is former Minnesota great Randy Moss, who once pantomimed pulling down his pants toward the crowd at Lambeau, initially lambasting the traitor before ultimately admitting the raise-requesting Ragnar was probably right to do it. After all, Moss, fined $10,000 for the 2005 mooning, was always all about that paper, too.
Regardless whether or not Ragnar’s defection was genuine – he hasn't yet responded to a request for comment, but Juranitch posted a video on his Facebook page Saturday telling fans "I guess it’s time to move on. You’re going to see me soon" – the Vikings went on to beat the Packers, 20-13, and capture the division.
If you’re scoring at home, that’s two mascots of NFC North rivals putting on Packers colors, followed by two losses to those teams. Modus ponens, one of the most basic rules of inference that surely even Ditka and Ragnar understand, demonstrates (retroactively) that if a rival’s mascot wears Packers colors, then the Packers will lose. Rival mascots wore Packers colors; therefore, the Packers lost.
If we've learned nothing else this season, the indisputable calculus of logic has at least learned us that.
With Green Bay set to play a Wild Card playoff game in our nation’s capital on Sunday, let’s hope that whatever offensive thing is currently representing the Washington professional football team doesn’t do a dance with an Aaron Rodgers jersey on or something.
Even though it's not a divisional matchup, Packers fans might want to do some counter-cursing anyway this week, just in case.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.