Matay Reinhold/USA TODAY

Notebook: Mike Zimmer holding off on surgery

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is holding off on another eye surgery until after the heavy travel period; and we also look at the futures of Chad Greenway and Adam Thielen.

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer waited as long as he could for surgery during the 2016 season after suffering a detached retina in his right eye.

Zimmer returned from an Oct. 31 game against the Chicago Bear with blurred vision in his eye and was taken to have it checked out. But Zimmer continued to coach without any game-day interruption until he finally was convinced to have an emergency procedure prior to a Dec. 1 game against the Dallas Cowboys. The end result was that after four procedures on his eye, by the end of the season his vision still wasn’t back to normal and it remains flawed at this point.

Even so, Zimmer is waiting until April to have what he and the Minnesota Vikings hope is the final corrective procedure to restore vision in his right eye.

So, why the wait this time?

“He’s putting it off because of the travel we have coming up over the next month-and-a-half,” general manager Rick Spielman said. “But he will get his eye surgery done in April and hopefully that will resolve everything.”

To allow Zimmer to travel during the season, he didn’t have the standard oil-based solution commonly used to correct a detached retina. At this time of year, coaches and scouts typically travel to the Senior Bowl (and potentially other college all-star games) in January, then to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February, as well as traveling to college pro day days to see draft prospects work out in March and early April.

Once his travel schedule calms down, Zimmer is scheduled to have the surgery.

For now, however, the vision in his right eye still isn’t back to normal, but he has been on the receiving end of jokes from players and staff.

“I don’t know if he’s looking cross-eyed at me because he’s mad or because he’s having …” Spielman said before stopping himself. “Yeah, he needs another surgery to fully get back.”

Zimmer has been open to the joking, however, even signing off on a cardboard cutout of him having a pirate patch depicted over his eye for Vikings marketing events.


Linebacker Chad Greenway acted like the 2016 regular-season finale was his final NFL game, even taking the unusual measure of having a press conference after that game. However, he stopped short of fully confirming his retirement, despite all the actions on and off the field indicating he had decided on that route.

So where do things stand with him?

“I think that Chad Greenway and his future will be … it’ll all be decided before we start free agency,” Spielman said.

The expectation is still that Greenway will retire, and he has agreed to be an ambassador for helping to enlist 10,000 volunteers to help with U.S. Bank Stadium hosting Super Bowl VII next February.

“What Chad does for this community is off the charts and doing things he has set up are incredible for this community,” Spielman said.


Receiver Adam Thielen led the Vikings with 967 yards receiving in 2016, but he is a restricted free agent. That means the Vikings, if they don’t sign him to a multi-year extension before free agency starts on March 9, can place a tender on him to retain the right of first refusal.

The expectation is that the team will place either a first- or second-round tender on him, which would allow the Vikings to recoup that level of a draft pick if another team signed him to an offer sheet that the Vikings declined to match.

Yet, as with all of their pending free agents, Spielman isn’t publicly divulging the team’s plans.

“I’m not going to say we are or aren’t. I know we have to announce that at some point coming up relatively shortly,” the general manager said. “There is a plan and I already know what we’re going to do, but I will not make that official announcement at all.”

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