Poppy:Most mascots have goofy-looking outfits that are over-the-top and just plain cheesy. Not the Minnesota Vikings’ mascot Ragnar. He’s a real, live Viking. In fact, he’s the only human mascot in all of professional sports, so you can’t tell me a cartoon-looking orange is more hardcore than this bearded, horned helmet-donning, motorcycle-riding freak. He would squash an orange with his axe and then grunt profusely before devouring the smiley-faced pipsqueak. I mean, Otto the Orange isn’t even round, he looks like he’s already rotting!The true measure of a mascot is devotion, and no one mascot is more devoted than Ragnar. Not only does he take the field as his true self, beard and all, Raggy hasn’t missed a single game since 1994 and is always the first to arrive in the Metrodome, revving the engine of one of his many bikes.Maybe most impressive is the world record Ragnar holds. In 1982, he set the mark for shaving a beard with an axe (eight minutes, 43 seconds), which still stands today. And this is no lame record that most mascots put on their bio to impress kindergarteners; the actual Ragnar really holds this world record!The only success the Vikes have had in the past years is due to their intimidating mascot. We all know opposing teams aren’t afraid of the sub-par teams Minnesota has fielded, but Ragnar certainly strikes fear in them from the sidelines. If Brad Childress really wants to excel in his first season as head coach, maybe he should give Ragnar a helmet and pads — though he probably wouldn’t wear them when he plays anyway. Perhaps if he were around earlier, the Vikings wouldn’t be 0-5 in the Super Bowl.McGrath:What makes a great mascot? First, it has to be inspirational, driving both fans and players to higher levels of performance. It should also be classy: acting as the ideal representative for a multi-million dollar corporation or university. That is why Otto the Orange is without question the greatest mascot around: He excels in both categories. First off, what is more inspirational than an orange in a baseball hat? Especially an orange that is slightly under-inflated. It’s like having Tiny Tim or The Gipper on the sidelines. You can’t help but want to win one for the Otto. I believe Donovan McNabb, a Syracuse alum, has said many times that if it wasn’t for the inspiration he got from Otto, he’d probably be a shoe salesman, albeit a really fast one with a bazooka for an arm.Poppy’s Ragnok, on the other hand, only makes me want to flee from his stench, since Vikings are notorious for their avoidance of showers.And you want to talk about dignity and class? Nothing is more dignified and stately than naked fruit in headgear with striped jogging pants. I mean, James Bond in a tux is probably the more pristine look out there, but Otto in a ball cap is a very close second. And for the record, a mascot with an untrimmed beard wearing dead animal skins has to rank near the bottom of the list.Plus, Otto is very functional. What other mascot could both hop in at defensive tackle in a pinch or donate his body for use as a second-string basketball, should one be needed in a game?Lastly, I’ve heard mumbles that Otto is something of a wimp or weenie. The guy is a fuzzy orange! All I have to say to that is would you want to fight a fruit that has enough testosterone to grow a full body beard? I didn’t think so.Poppy’s Ragnar can only grow a beard on his chin — a very undignified one — and suffers from male pattern baldness. Point: Otto.
Petr Cech was named Man of the Match in his first game since signing for ice hockey side Guildford Phoenix on Sunday.The former Arsenal and Chelsea goalkeeper, now 37, was the star man in Guildford’s win over Swindon Wildcats 2 in the NIHL 2, after a game tied 2-2 went to a penalty decider.Cech, who holds the record for the most Premier League clean sheets by any goalkeeper, caused a stir on social media when he announced the beginning of his professional ice hockey career.With Guildford having already played and won two games, Cech’s efforts in the penalty shoot-out helped his new side maintain their 100% record for the season. The 124-cap former Czech Republic international saved two penalties to secure the win.He wore a helmet featuring the badges of both Chelsea and Arsenal after spending 15 years plying his trade in London.When he announced his move, Cech noted that he had played ice hockey as a child before his football career kicked into gear. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to play with the Phoenix to get match experience,” he said in a club press release.”I hope I can help this young team to achieve their goals for the season and try to win as many games as possible when I have the chance to play.”After 20 years of professional football this is going to be a wonderful experience for me to play the game I loved to watch and play as a kid.”Despite reigniting his old ice hockey flame, Cech will continue in his backroom role at Chelsea, having returned to Stamford Bridge this summer following his retirement at Arsenal.“Some people seem to think I changed my job. No I didn’t,” Cech said on Twitter. “Luckily my job as the Technical and Performance adviser at Chelsea FC doesn’t stop me in my spare time from playing the game I loved as a kid and which I’ve been playing for years. “While being [a] professional footballer I couldn’t play the games for obvious reason[s] … now I can.”Cech will be hoping to feature again in Guildford’s next fixture, away from home at Bristol Pitbulls on October 19.