Head coach Mike Zimmer got his first NFL coaching job with the Cowboys and was with them from 1994-06, offensive coordinator Norv Turner was an offensive coordinator for the team from 1991-93 and star running back Adrian Peterson grew up about 110 miles from Dallas in Palestine, Tex.
Out of these three, it is the one who is not going to be participating in the game that may be the most excited to return. Peterson won’t be partaking in Saturday’s game, as he will be kept on the sideline, but he hopes to take in some of his favorite food, barbeque.
“It’s special, anytime you go home it’s a good time,” the running back said. “Looking forward to some great barbeque down there in Dallas. We was able to get some two years ago, so hopefully my guy Craig can make it happen this Friday as well.
“It’s actually not a restaurant. It’s kind of like a backyard grill. He comes down every year and barbeques the whole weekend for my Adrian Peterson Day, so I’ve never had any complaints.”
Turner’s ties to Dallas are a little different than Peterson’s. He helped lead Dallas to two Super Bowl victories during his time with the Cowboys, but after a 31-year career in the NFL those sentimental feelings of reliving the past have started to subside.
He still remembers the success that he had in Dallas and still loves to see the players he won those Super Bowls with, but now he just views the Cowboys as another opponent. He likes to play in the stadium, but he loves to beat the Cowboys in that massive stadium even more.
“I always like going back there,” Turner said. “Obviously we had great success when I was coaching there and we’ve gone in there and had some pretty big wins. When I was with San Diego, I know we went in there and had a really big win, so it’s a good place to play.”
Zimmer still spends a lot of time down in Dallas because he still has a house there. He also stays in touch with a lot of people from the organization and has remained close with them over the years. After all, it was the first NFL team he ever had the chance to work with, and of the 21 years he has worked in the NFL, 13 of them were in Dallas.
It is hard to cut the ties to a place when you have spent over half your career there.
“I’m friends with a lot of people there in the organization,” he said. “The Joneses, they were always real good to me. Steven (Jones, Executive Vice President/COO/Director of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys) and I talk a fair amount. They invite me down to their hunting place a lot; I go down there quite a bit and I’ve still got tons and tons of people that worked in the building that I’m friends with. But it’s playing an opponent so I’m sure they want to win, too.”
The trip down to Dallas is still a game and that is Zimmer’s primary focus. He wants to win the game, but even more so he wants to be able to see how his players perform against the Cowboys.
Dallas fielded a playoff team a year ago so Zimmer feels like it is a great opportunity to see his players go up against some tough competition. The first set of roster cuts are coming up soon for NFL teams, meaning this game will be important for evaluating players.
“I think it’s great that we’re playing a team that is very, very talented because it gives me a better understanding of our team and where we’re at and guys they’re going against,” he said. “You can always look at different matchups anyway, whoever we’re playing, but there will be some good matchups this week that we will have to contend with.”
There are several people on the Vikings roster that have ties to Texas, and returning back can always be a fun trip. This time, however, the game comes first with jobs on the line.