Ben Goessling | ESPN.com
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — As he stepped to the podium after being introduced as the Minnesota Vikings‘ head coach on Friday, Mike Zimmer exuded both the confidence and the defiance of a coach who felt he should have been there a long time ago.
Zimmer had waited through a 20-year career as an assistant — 14 of which were as a defensive coordinator and six as a defensive backs coach — interviewing for five different head coaching jobs in that time. He’d already had a list of coaching points Bill Parcells passed along to him when Zimmer was his coordinator in Dallas, bounding over from the next office and saying, “Mike, write this down for when you’re a head coach!”
Parcells already added to that list in a phone call this week, giving Zimmer three things to write down after he congratulated the 57-year-old for finally making the jump.
Zimmer was introduced as the ninth head coach in Vikings history on Friday after the team hired him on Wednesday, tabbing him to replace Leslie Frazier. He called himself a “fixer” who’s made a career out of getting the best from marginal players, and confidently added, “I’m good at my job.” He jabbed at the idea that he’d been too blunt for his own good in previous job interviews. And while he made the promise most coaches make in their introductory press conferences, talking about bringing a Super Bowl to Minnesota, Zimmer sold the idea in more detailed terms than most will use.
“I can’t wait to stand on the podium with (owner) Zygi (Wilf) and (team president) Mark (Wilf) and we’re standing on the podium and we look up and the confetti is falling on top of us and Commissioner Goodell comes over and he hands the Super Bowl trophy to Mr. Wilf and tells him we’re world champions,” Zimmer said. “So that is my goal and my drive.”
Zimmer would not address any plans for the Vikings’ coaching staff, though ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported the team is close to hiring Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner for the same job, and has also offered a job to former Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey.
Zimmer also did not say whether he would put his son, Adam — a Cincinnati Bengals assistant who wore a purple sweater as he sat behind his father at the news conference on Friday — on his staff, and he would not address whether he would retain special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who was accused earlier this month by former punter Chris Kluwe of making homophobic remarks. He did say, however, he hasn’t been told he has to keep members of Frazier’s staff, who are still under contract through next season.
“We’re going to announce the entire staff at a later time when we get them all finished,” Zimmer said.
General manager Rick Spielman confirmed the Vikings talked to seven coaches in eight days; those seven were reported to be Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Zimmer, San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman and 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
“After we went through the seven, it was clear we shared the same vision and same passion for the game and same vision on what we want our football team to be,” Spielman said.
- Previously covered Vikings for St. Paul Pioneer Press
- Also covered Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Wild and Washington Nationals
- Twin Cities native and University of Minnesota graduate