Frank Ragnow grew up with the purple and gold of the Minnesota Vikings plastered over his bedroom wall. Posters, filled-out note cards on the current roster.
Asked last April, weeks leading up the 2018 National Football League draft what it would be like to play for the Minnesota Vikings, the Victoria native didn’t shy away from his feelings.
“Each and every other team you’re freaking out with the chance to play in the NFL, but with the Vikings, my room was purple and gold. ... I grew up a die hard fan of them,” he said.
A first-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions, taken 10 picks ahead of where Minnesota selected, guaranteed Ragnow would be coming home once each year.
That date was Sunday, Nov. 4, week nine of the 2018 season.
An unhappy homecoming on the field, a 24-9 loss to the Vikings.
Minnesota recorded a team-record 10 sacks on the Lions — a “disappointing” statistic, Ragnow told the assembled media in the locker room following the game.
“Pretty high,” he said in terms of the level of disappointment.
“All the credit goes to (the Vikings). They have a very, very talented front. They have dudes on every single position,” Ragnow added.
What wasn’t disappointing was the play of Ragnow. Of the 10 sacks allowed, none came on the first-year player. Unofficially, he allowed just two hurries.
Matched up with veteran Pro Bowl defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Sheldon Richardson most of the game, Ragnow held his own. One play, driving Joseph back five yards, the Viking tapped the Chanhassen High School graduate on the backside in a sign of respect.
Despite his rookie status, Ragnow has been noticed throughout the league. He received a game ball on a Sunday Night Football telecast from Cris Collingsworth. In recent weeks, Peter King of Sports Illustrated named him an offensive player of the week.
“You know why Kerryon Johnson had that 71-yard run in Miami on Sunday, the longest run for the Lions in seven years? A perfectly played, perfectly executed pulling block from Ragnow,” King wrote.
“I’m learning a lot. You just have to keep it one game at a time. You can’t get too high or too low. That will be tough after this one,” Ragnow said. “But it’s pretty damn cool playing in the NFL. That’s the way I look at it.”
For the Ragnow family, lifelong fans of the Minnesota Vikings, switching allegiance to the Lions has been quite the adjustment.
Sister Maddie, a 2018 Chanhassen High School graduate, does whatever is needed to support her brother. This was her fourth game in attendance this season thus far.
“He talks about how he’s just a guy. He’s just like everybody else out here. He’s very humble like that. He talks about how crazy all of this is,” Maddie said.
Sister Katie, a 2016 Chanhassen graduate, had her hopes up that Frank would be playing for the hometown Vikings.
“It’s pretty crazy. I never expected him to be wearing Lions gear,” Katie said.
“I just tried to keep it like any other game, as much as possible. But it certainly meant a bit more with the people here supporting me,” Frank said.
For Frank’s mom, Marty, being in U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time was exciting, yet bittersweet.
“Being a Lions fan feels different, but it’s been super cool,” she said.
The family’s pride for their son, their brother, is easy to see. Standing near the end zone during warm-ups, Frank’s support system, including his girlfriend and her family, soak in the moment.
Much like Ragnow is.
“He’s always been so mature. That’s the way he always has been. He had to be, being so big when he was little,” Marty said. “It is a lot. He’s such a hard worker. He’s taken it all in. And it’s paying off.”
Frank’s brother, Jack, a 2018 Chanhassen graduate, followed from the deer stand, another passion inherited by their father, Jon, who passed away in 2016.
Jack reported his group hauled in a 12-point buck. “Cold and wet and good times,” he said.
“To see all the people come out and watch me play at home for the first time since Chan High School, it felt pretty great. That was very cool,” Frank said.
The Detroit Lions, 3-5 overall, play three of the next four games at home, including the traditional Thanksgiving contest with Chicago on Nov. 22.
Minnesota makes a trip to Detroit on Dec. 23 in week 16.