Dear Mike Zimmer, Thank You For Everything

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The Mike Zimmer era is officially over. After going 71-56-1 along with 2-3 in the playoffs in three appearances, his time has come to a close. There are many reasons why the organization is choosing to move on from Zimmer, but his contributions should be celebrated today.

When Zimmer took over for Leslie Frazier, this was a team in disarray. Having gone 5-10-1 the previous season, star receiver Percy Harvin was demanding a trade, and the defense was the worst in football the prior season. In his introductory press conference, Zimmer said he “was born to do this” and called himself a fixer. It turns out that he was right on both accounts.

You can’t tell the story about Zimmer without discussing the trials and tribulations that he endured each season. Most coaches face one or two major calamities in their tenure. Zimmer had the unfortunate luck to face one nearly every season.

2014: Adrian Peterson suspension

2015: Blair Walsh 27-yard field goal

2016: Teddy Bridgewater knee injury/Norv Turner debacle/Nearly going blind

2017: QB injuries/38-7

2018: Everson Griffen’s absence

2019: Stefon Diggs drama

2020: Danielle Hunter

2021: COVID struggles with star players

Every year, Zimmer has had to deal with something, including a tornado of scenarios in 2016 where he nearly lost his vision in one eye, which resulted in over a dozen surgeries. The issues that he had to deal with constantly were arguably unfair, but it comes with the job.

Nothing is ever going to be completely fair for any head coach, but to say that Zimmer had to deal with more than the average head coach is unequivocally true. While most will remember him for the end of his tenure, we should celebrate Zimmer for the job that he did to fix this team.

After Leslie Frazier left the team in near shambles, Zimmer’s no nonsense, blunt mentality proved to be endearing to his players. He flipped the Vikings’ future in just one season, taking the worst defense to the 11th ranked unit in football. By 2017, the Vikings were the top unit in football in both points and yards allowed.

Week in and week out, Zimmer had the Vikings playing their tails off for him and each other, staying competitive in every game, minus a few clunkers. He risked his eyesight for weeks to be on the field with his players, including multiple players who came back to play for him after leaving the team—and attracting former players from other teams.

In his press conferences, he was known to be curt and blunt, but you always knew what he was thinking and where he stood. This was a stark change from what we saw from Brad Childress, who was ornery but never felt genuine. Zimmer gave everything he had to the franchise and the fanbase.

We know the issues he had, and they are a big reason why he has been let go. But I want to propose a toast. Thank you for putting this franchise back on a winning path. Thank you for putting every ounce of your being into this team to try and bring a Super Bowl to a starving Vikings fanbase. Thank you for reminding us what a great defense looks like. Thank you for being honest with us and speaking your mind. Thank you for being you, Mike Zimmer. I wish you nothing but success in your future endeavors. You deserve the absolute best.

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