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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Mike Zimmer only two wins from fulfilling goal of being covered in confetti

By Judd Zulgad

Vikings fans spent Monday celebrating their team’s improbable playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints still marveling at the fact that Case Keenum had found Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard touchdown on a third-down play that ended with no time on the clock.

This was the type of thing that Minnesota sports fans have become accustomed to seeing happen against the Vikings, only this time the team was able to overcome a series of second-half miscues and spoil some else’s party.

All of this celebrating, however, might have caused the Purple faithful to miss an important anniversary. Monday marked four years since Mike Zimmer was named Vikings’ coach.

Zimmer, who had been the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati before getting the Vikings job, inherited a team that had gone 5-10-1 and finished in last place in the NFC North under Leslie Frazier. On the day he was introduced, Zimmer talked about the importance of working with general manager Rick Spielman. He then turned his attention to ownership.

“They want to win a Super Bowl as badly as anybody in the world,” Zimmer said, “and I honestly can’t wait to stand on the podium with Zygi, Mark and Jonathan (Wilf) and we are standing on the podium, and we look up and the confetti is falling down on top of us, and we are all hand in hand, and Commissioner Goodell comes over and he hands the Super Bowl trophy to Mr. Wilf, and tells him he is World Champions. So that is my goal and that is my drive.”

Zimmer never put a timetable on getting the Vikings a Super Bowl championship, but his team is now one win from that game and two victories from being showered in confetti. A victory at Philadelphia on Sunday in the NFC title game would give the Vikings an opportunity to become the first franchise in NFL history to win a Super Bowl on their home field.

While Zimmer had visions of capturing a championship on the day he was hired, what’s interesting is that he nearly took himself out of the running for the Vikings job. That came after Zimmer was passed over for head coaching openings in Cleveland, Indianapolis, Miami, Tampa Bay and Tennessee.

According to a story that appeared on the Fox Sports website in May 2014, Zimmer told an audience at the NFL’s career-development symposium that he nearly withdrew from the coaching search in Minnesota after losing out on another opening. That was believed to be the Titans job, which went to Ken Whisenhunt.

The Titans fired Whisenhunt seven games into the 2015 season and on Monday they mutually agreed to a split with Whisenhunt’s successor, Mike Mularkey.

There were seven head coaches hired after the 2013 season, including Zimmer. Houston’s Bill O’Brien and Washington’s Jay Gruden join Zimmer in still having jobs, although O’Brien and Gruden are watching the playoffs from home. Jim Caldwell (Detroit), Mike Pettine (Cleveland) and Lovie Smith (Tampa Bay) join Whisenhunt in having been jettisoned.

Zimmer, who has a 39-25 regular-season record with the Vikings and is 1-1 in the playoffs, had given thought to telling Spielman “thanks, but no thanks.” That came after the Titans hired Whisenhunt while Zimmer was headed to Tennessee for a second interview. Zimmer enjoyed being a defensive coordinator and concluded that maybe head coaching wasn’t in his future.

“I almost didn’t go (on the second interview with Minnesota),” Zimmer told Fox. “I was so disappointed. “It was like, ‘Why even do this?’ It was to that point. I figured I was getting too old. (He was 57 at the time he was hired.) I thought, ‘Forget this.’ But I talked to a couple of people who said, ‘Hey, you’ve gotta go. What are you doing?’”

Zimmer didn’t identify those people but as he celebrates four years in Minnesota, and has his team one game away from the Super Bowl, the Vikings and their fans should be very thankful he listened to his friends.

The post Zulgad: Mike Zimmer only two wins from fulfilling goal of being covered in confetti appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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