Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is a bit of an odd duck. He’s intense, of course, and his players love him, but his most recent attempt to keep his players focused – which ultimately didn’t work – was bloody strange.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune beat writer Matt Vensel, before sending his then-undefeated team off for its bye, Zimmer massacred some poor stuffed animals.
The coach put stuffed cats all over the team’s practice facility, their throats slashed and their little furry bodies splattered with fake blood.
A large cat was hung in the locker room with a sign: “Fat Cats Get Slaughtered.”
As motivational tactics go, it’s about as weird as Jack Del Rio’s “Keep Chopping Wood” in Jacksonville years ago – although in Zimmer’s case, outside of the toy cats, no one got injured.
The message was meant to remind players to not take anything for granted, even as they were the NFL’s last undefeated team, a surprise given that the Vikings lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater before the regular season began and All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson in Week 2.
The tabby cats weren’t the only things to go down, however: the Vikings lost to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, 21-10, their first loss of the year.
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