Football fans got to know Mike Zimmer on a large scale when the Cincinnati Bengals were the subject of the HBO documentary series “Hard Knocks.” Thanks to the pay-to-enjoy TV lack of language restrictions, Zim was uncut and uncensored.
Needless to say, if you saw that season, you heard some colorful language from the Bengals’ Ol’ Ball Coach.
The NFL Network chose last Sunday’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams as a game in which Zimmer was wearing a microphone.
Mike was mic’d.
The network has made a point to highlight the most salacious moment of his hot mic action – his response to the shoulder throw tackle by the Rams’ Lamarcus Joyner on a sliding Teddy Bridgewater’s head.
Zim was irate after that play.
The NFL Network went Zapruder film on the hit and former players on the set basically drew party lines. Defensive players were on the defensive. Offensive players were on the offensive.
What seemed to be missed by the “jockocracy” of sports television was the smoking gun portion of the transcript. Zimmer is shown talking to the officials and making the claim that the Rams had “been doing this all day.”
The last hit was the worst hit. The last cheap shot was the cheapest. But it wasn’t the first. There were several more prior to that.
The intent of the hit that Joyner put on Bridgewater can be argued.
In Joyner’s defense, Teddy had already rushed for a touchdown against his team and he was late in sliding.
But the fact that Joyner appeared to adjust his tackle to take into account that Bridgewater was inches from the ground when he delivered the hit set Zimmer off.
Whether the NFL fines or suspends Joyner is yet to be the seen. But the fine police have the rare opportunity to sync up game action with the full Zimmer audio from the sidelines. It likely will be rated M for mature audiences only, but Zimmer also reacted to the other incidents he cited to the officials that was deemed proper to include in the “Sound FX” presentation.
Given the gravity of the anger Vikings coaches and players had about the style of play that St. Louis employed, the league has at its disposal the full audio of Zimmer’s actions and reactions to what was happening.
No coach is unbiased in the NFL. Every call that goes for you is correct. The officials are idiots on 50 percent of the flags they throw.
But, if the Zimmer mic’d-up experience can point out the plays in which he believes Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his players were taking liberties – he has a history – the audio in the league’s possession could prove or disprove whether or not there was a systematic abuse of the rules of sportsmanship employed by Williams and his charges.
Depending on where you see the segments of Zimmer audio from the game, more than four hours of a hot microphone have been condensed down to minutes. It’s the other portion of that four hours that may be what the league’s fine police need to examine.
What are the rantings of a coach with a vested stake in a game worth? What is a legitimate charge of attempting to injure a player? The proof is on film and it has a soundtrack.