Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer left training camp immediately after practice Monday to be with his ailing father Bill.
Zimmer excused himself from a scheduled media session with reporters immediately after practice, saying his father wasn’t doing well and that he wouldn’t be at Tuesday’s practice.
Zimmer has talked about the influence his father had on his coaching career. Bill also coached sports after playing football for Bradley University. He earned Illinois Hall of Fame honors coaching football and wrestling for Lockport Township High School in Illinois. Both Mike and Bill are in the Lockport Hall of Fame (Mike played football, baseball and wrestled there) and Bill is also in the Bradley University Hall of Fame.
The day that Mike got his first head coaching job with the Vikings in 2014 was a proud moment for Bill.
“Even when he was a kid, we would put a game tape in at home and he would sit back and watch,” Bill told the Star Tribune last year. “He wanted to know what the game was all about.
“I’m tickled to death today … and proud of him to have the patience and strength to stick with it and get this chance.”
Zimmer lost his wife of 27 years, Vikki, to cancer during the 2009 season when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Pro Football Writers of America recognized Zimmer with its Halas Award for overcoming that tragedy and continuing to coach the Bengals to the No. 4-ranked defense in the NFL that year.
In Zimmer’s absence, offensive coordinator Norv Turner is expected to take over Zimmer’s duties.