What would we do without insane coaches?
Before dismissing his 5-0 team for the bye week, coach Mike Zimmer scattered stuffed animals of the feline variety throughout Winter Park. Their throats were slashed, with some of the white stuffing within seeping out, and were then splattered with red paint.
Hanging on the larger cat in the locker room was a sign that read “Fat Cats Get Slaughtered.”
It was a warning against complacency (and maybe against cleanliness; on Friday, more than a week after the massacre, there were still bloody stuffed cats strewn about the locker room), and on the face of it, it did not work. The Vikings suffered their first loss of the season on Sunday, an ugly and complete 21-10 defeat in Philadelphia.
Oh sure, there were plenty of good reasons for the loss, and most of them play on the offensive line. Sam Bradford took six sacks and was hit 12 times in his return to Philadelphia, and the running game failed to top 100 yards for the fifth time this season. So far this year, the Vikings are averaging a pallid 2.6 yards per carry.
“We didn’t block anybody,” Zimmer said. “We were soft. We got overpowered.”
The Vikings are still tied for the best record in the NFC, and should be a real contender—it’s a weird year and no one in the conference is without glaring weaknesses—but maybe toy genocide isn’t going to get that Minnesota offense humming. I feel like we only hear about these things when they fail spectacularly, like Tony Sparano burying a football then losing six in a row, or Jack Del Rio putting a tree stump in the locker room and his punter accidentally cutting open his own leg with an ax swing. The Vikings just opened this stadium and now it’s forever haunted by vengeful stuffed kitty ghosts.
Update, 8:47 p.m. EDT: The Vikings have clarified that Zimmer was not the one who did the painting or the cutting.
Coach did distribute stuffed animals throughout the building with the message that “Fat Cats Get Slaughtered.” At some point someone in the locker room cut the toys open and put on the red paint. It was certainly not Coach.