On the exterior, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer may seem like a hard-nosed guy. He walks around the practice field as the man in charge, keeping a close eye on his players with an occasional mouthful of advice for one that made a mistake. He has even been known to lay into the referees on game day if he gets upset enough.
Deep down inside, though, he loves his players. He talks about how much he appreciates his team on a weekly basis. He even cancelled the team’s final practice of minicamp, even though he joked that he wasn’t doing them any favors because he knows his team and knew they actually wanted to go out and practice that day.
“I’m surprised that they’re not sad that we didn’t practice today, because they like to practice,” Zimmer said during his final press conference of minicamp. “This team likes to practice, and I just watch them – compared to other teams or other guys or other players – when they come out here, they compete.”
He’s right, the team does bring a high energy level to practice. While they were all more than happy to have the day off, a couple of them did say they were looking forward to going out there that day. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said he was ready to go make plays, and that shows what kind of team the Vikings are.
A lot of it comes from the way Zimmer coaches them.
“Zimmer, he’s a smart coach,” said defensive end Everson Griffen. “He’s a player’s coach. He knows what we need. We got a lot of guys that are healthy right now and that’s how you want to leave it.”
Zimmer has different ways of encouraging his players and one of them is giving them little Zimmer-isms from time to time, sayings that he has picked up over his years of coaching. Two examples of those that Griffen gave are “iron sharpens iron” and “good is the enemy of great.”
Little things make Zimmer unique and draw his players even closer to him. Many of them will even say that he is the best coach they have ever had, dating back as far as they can remember.
“He has some real good sayings and he follows behind all his quotes,” Griffen said. “He’s an authentic man, there’s no fake in him. He’s very authentic and that’s what I love about him the most. He’s blunt. He’s authentic. He’s everything you want in a coach. He’s the best coach I ever had and I’m happy to have him.”
At the end of the day, no matter how rough and tough he appears on the outside, Zimmer seems to be the type of coach that will do anything for his players. They know that, and in return, they appear to be willing to do anything for him.