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Vikings hire Zimmer as coach

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The Minnesota Vikings hired Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as their next head coach, the team announced Wednesday.

Zimmer will be introduced as the team's head coach on Friday in a press conference at Winter Park.

"We are excited to welcome Mike as the new leader of the Minnesota Vikings," Vikings owner and chairman Zygi Wilf said in a statement. "He has a proven track record of success at every stop in the NFL and we look forward to him maintaining that consistency here in Minnesota."

Zimmer joins the Vikings after spending the past six seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Bengals.

"I'm grateful to the Wilf family, Rick Spielman and the entire Vikings organization for giving me an opportunity to join a franchise with such a strong tradition and an extremely passionate fan base," Zimmer said in a statement. "I believe in a disciplined and physical brand of football and I look forward to getting to work on leading a team capable of long-term success."

Prior to joining Cincinnati, Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 after spending the previous 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, including seven as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator.

"Mike epitomizes the type of football coach with the vision and the values we were looking for to lead us into the future," Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. "His history of maximizing players' potential, along with his football knowledge and passion for the game, will be tremendous assets as we enter a new era of Vikings football."

Zimmer's name name was mentioned often during the past few years in head coaching searches before he finally landed the job with the Vikings.

Zimmer interviewed in Minnesota on Tuesday and stayed overnight as contract negotiations continued, according ESPN.com.

Zimmer will replace Leslie Frazier, who was fired after the 2013 season.

Zimmer, 57, who has never been a head coach at any level, becomes the third head coach hired since current owners Zygi and Mark Wilf bought the team in 2005.

"I've heard nothing but great things about him," Vikings safety Jamarca Sanford told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I heard he's a passionate coach, a player coach, a man of respect. That's what you want out of a head coach.

"I like the way he communicates with the players on the sidelines, he'll get in your face and he's aggressive. I love that as a defensive player. That's what every defensive player wants."

The Vikings were 31st in total defense last season, and Zimmer's Bengals defense was third overall.

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph tweeted: "Fired up about Coach Zimmer! As a Cincy kid he's been fun to watch there and can't wait to work with him! Welcome to the @Vikings!"

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Zimmer has what it takes to be a head coach.

"Zim does a great job of identifying who to push and when," Lewis was quoted on the Bengals website. "He helps me by being the guy who puts his foot up their butt, getting them moving in the right direction so I don't have to be the one to do it all the time."
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