Black Monday was last week in the NFL and with a slew of coaches receiving their pink slips, it was time for another tradition in pro sports: Teams anonymously skewering their recently-axed coach, especially if the firing came as any sort of surprise.
It happened in Miami. The Dolphins fired Brian Flores, and soon after came reports that he was difficult to get along with, and that he had bad relationships with some of the top people in the organization. The same thing has happened with the Minnesota Vikings and coach Mike Zimmer.
While his firing didn’t stir the same outrage as that of Flores, Zimmer’s departure was still more surprising than the obvious ones, like former Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy or former New York Giants coach Joe Judge. Zimmer, who had been the Vikings’ coach since 2014, led the team to two division championships and three playoff appearances, including an NFC Championship game during the 2017 season with Case Keenum at QB.
However, the Vikings have missed the playoffs the last two seasons and finished with a below-.500 record. Injuries hit them hard on defense for a second-consecutive season, and a frightening incident ended Everson Griffen’s 2021 season only nine games and five sacks in — in December he revealed on social media that he suffers from bipolar disorder.
Still, the Vikings decided that it was time for a new voice to lead the team. The Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling is reporting that the Vikings’ problems with Zimmer were similar to the Dolphins’ problems with Flores. Zimmer could be difficult to get along with, and he and general manager Rick Speilman — who was also fired — were not on the same page.
However, there is a detail in this story that might be my favorite in the history of organizations anonymously throwing their former coach under the bus. Apparently, following a late-season loss of great consequence, Zimmer gave a presentation about all the adversity that he has faced as coach of the Vikings that left players “dumbfounded.”
To be a fly on the wall in that meeting. Did he use an overhead projector like the late Al Davis when he torched Lane Kiffin, or did he have one of his quality control assistants put together a powerpoint presentation? Maybe he had one of his video coordinators put together a clip tape of every unfortunate moment that befell the Vikings, and Zimmer stopped the tape and used his pointer like he was going through game film.
“You see this [Justin] Jefferson?”
“This is when my quarterback’s leg was shredded, and this is when Adrian Peterson was suspended for not leaving 20th century parenting techniques where they belong. Both of these incidents were very painful for me.”
When this type of information comes out about recently fired coaches I sometimes feel bad. Surely, people have been waiting to get this information off of their chests, but it is kind of like stepping on someone’s foot that’s already broken. Nobody would enjoy their former place of employment airing out all of their dirty laundry to the public, but this particular story is awesome.
One of these Gen-Z football players had to record at least a portion of this presentation, and that player owes it to this content-obsessed society to feed us that glorious content of Mike Zimmer using meeting time to present to his players and staff all of the bad things that happened to him as Vikings coach.