Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer returns to work, expected to travel

The Minnesota Vikings got head coach Mike Zimmer back on Monday.

After numerous eye surgeries over the past five weeks, an emergency surgery on Wednesday night caused Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer to miss the team’s game against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.

On Monday, the Vikings announced that Zimmer returned to his coaching duties and is expected to travel with the team to Jacksonville for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.


Over the weekend, ESPN reported that Zimmer had a fourth surgery on his right eye on Friday that might make him unable to fly to Jacksonville and that the team had a contingency plan in place where Zimmer would be driven to Florida. However, that no longer appears necessary with Monday’s news that Zimmer is expected to travel “with the team” to Jacksonville.

The Vikings were given the weekend off and players return to practice on Tuesday to start preparations for Sunday’s game. Zimmer will have his first press conference since the latest surgeries on Wednesday.

The surgeries began on Nov. 1 when Zimmer had a procedure done to repair what he said was a torn retina in his right eye. On Thursday, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said last Wednesday night’s surgery was to repair a detached retina.

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Doctors told Zimmer last month that blindness in his eye was a possibility if he didn’t have the initial surgery, but after having it he returned to work that day and coached five days later. However, he had a second procedure done the following week and said he had six needles in his eye over the first two procedures. Those two procedures were expected to take care of the problem.

However, last Wednesday, the Vikings said Zimmer’s vision began to deteriorate after the team’s final walk-through practice before a Thursday night game and Zimmer was taken in for emergency surgery that night and was told he needed to stay home and rest his eye during Thursday night’s 17-15 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Despite that, Zimmer showed up at the team hotel on Thursday morning to talk to the players and coaches, but he didn’t coach that night or attend the game.

“It was emotional. Coach Zimmer is competitive and wants to go to war,” running back Jerick McKinnon said of Zimmer’s talk with the team last Thursday morning. “Not having him on the sidelines was tough and he spoke to the team, which was tough as well seeing him like that. We wanted to come out and win for him (Thursday) night and not being able to do that is just frustrating. That was the biggest thing for everybody on the team, trying to get this win for Coach Zim. Coming up short, I am pretty sure everybody took it pretty tough.”  

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