Eighth eye surgery forces break for Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will be taking “a few weeks” off after his latest eye surgery.

Eight is enough.

The Minnesota Vikings announced Monday morning that head coach Mike Zimmer will be taking a leave of absence after his eighth eye surgery since November of last year.

Zimmer suffered a detached retina during the 2016 season and had several surgeries then, eventually being forced to take off a Dec. 1 game against the Dallas Cowboys after an emergency surgery.

Zimmer had his eighth surgery last week and the team said all parties agreed that him taking a break is best. Zimmer told KFAN that he developed a cataract in the eye, something he said was a possibility in February.

“As the Vikings begin OTA [organized team activities] practices, Coach Zimmer will be taking time away from the team to dedicate to recovering from eye surgery and restoring his health,” General Manager Rick Spielman said in a statement released by the Vikings. “We all agree Mike’s health is the priority and we believe rest and recovery are in his best interest for the long term. We anticipate Mike back on the field in a few weeks.”

Zimmer told KFAN he “was the one pushing back on [taking time off] because I know how important it is to be with the team. … They’re going to send me the video every day and I’ll be in contact with them every day with things I see. It’s unfortunate timing, but it’s more important to do it now than during the season.”

Zimmer told KFAN as he was being driven to his ranch in Kentucky that the retina “looks great” and the pressure in his right eye has been relieved. 

“This is probably the best it’s ever been,” he told KFAN. “If I don’t screw it up by yelling at players and doing things I shouldn’t be doing, I think this is the best result that we’ve had.” 

Doctors put an oxygen bubble in Zimmer’s right eye on April 17 and they found he developed a cataract, which was taken out. The oil bubble that was in his eye and scar tissue had contributed to the increased pressure in his eye, Zimmer said.

“The pressure in my eye was very, very high,” Zimmer said, which is why the oil bubble was taken out and replaced with an oxygen bubble. If the pressure had been maintained, developing glaucoma could have been a possibility, Zimmer said.

The Vikings start organized team activities on Tuesday. Those will go for three weeks before the team’s mid-June minicamp.

Zimmer has delegated some of his responsibilities to other coaches on the team while he is away. Adam Zimmer, Mike’s son and the linebackers coach, will work situations in practices and defensive line coach Andre Patterson will be relaying messages from Mike.

“I just have to suck it up and do what’s right and everything will be fine,” Zimmer said.

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