NFL: Zimmer knows how to deal with adversity
MINNEAPOLIS -- A pair of Super Bowl-winning coaches said Friday that Mike Zimmer is the right coach to get the Vikings through this Adrian Peterson mess.
MINNEAPOLIS - A pair of Super Bowl-winning coaches said Friday that Mike Zimmer is the right coach to get the Vikings through this Adrian Peterson mess.
The former MVP running back was put on the NFL’s exempt list Wednesday after being indicted last week in Texas on a charge of child abuse. The Vikings likely won’t have Peterson for the rest of the season, which could make Zimmer’s first year as an NFL head coach a rocky one.
“Mike Zimmer is as tough a guy as I’ve ever met,” Jon Gruden told the Pioneer Press. “He’ll be fine.”
Gruden, now an ESPN analyst, won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay after the 2002 season. Brian Billick, who won a Super Bowl with Baltimore two years earlier and is a former Vikings assistant, echoed Gruden’s sentiments.
“Mike Zimmer is a good coach,” Billick said. “It’s going to be a tough road ahead, but he can overcome this challenge.”
Gruden pointed to adversity Zimmer has had in the past, including his wife Vikki dying unexpectedly in 2009 of natural causes. Zimmer brought up his wife’s death on his own during a news conference Friday.
“My wife died in October, five years ago. … So I’ve been through a lot,” Zimmer said.
Minnesota (1-1) plays Sunday at New Orleans (0-2) after losing 30-7 last weekend to New England without Peterson. After the Vikings reactivated Peterson on Monday, the team faced tremendous criticism and reversed course Wednesday.
Zimmer was an NFL assistant for 20 years, 14 as a defensive coordinator, before joining the Vikings. The offensive-minded Gruden coached against Zimmer defenses for more 15 years as an assistant and head coach.
“Mike’s had adversity before and he’s battled obstacles not only in his coaching career but in his life,” said Gruden, Oakland’s coach from 1998-2001 and Tampa Bay’s from 2002-08. “He has a lot of experience. When adversity strikes, life goes on. Mike Zimmer knows that, and he’ll have his team well prepared.”
Billick, now an NFL Network analyst, was a Vikings offensive assistant from 1992-98, which included going against Zimmer defenses. He also faced Zimmer teams as the Ravens’ head coach from 1999-2007.
“Mike’s been through his share of difficult things in the NFL,” Billick said. “In Cincinnati, he had a lot of things that happened. In Dallas, it was a three-ring circus. So he’s got a background of what to do when there’s adversity.”
When Zimmer was with the Cowboys from 1994-2006, there were a number of issues, including the 1996 arrest of star receiver Michael Irvin on a charge of cocaine possession and the 2006 alleged suicide attempt by star receiver Terrell Owens.
When Zimmer was with the Bengals from 2008-13, there were a number of arrests and the 2009 death of wide receiver Chris Henry, who was killed when he fell out of a moving truck.
“Being in the NFL for 21 years, you see a lot of different things,” Zimmer said. “I just try and do the best job I can each and every day, each and every week. We try to think about this going forward for the long term of the organization, try and coach them as hard as we can … It wouldn’t look very good if I wasn’t a tough guy, too.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service