The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt already this offseason, but many questions remain how the coronavirus will impact the regular season. How many fans — if any — will be allowed to attend games? How will the NFL address if a player has a confirmed case? Will teams shake hands after the game?
These are all forks in the road that will have to be crossed eventually, and one major concern is the health risk for coaches, many of whom are among the most at-risk age groups. The CDC reported that eight out of every 10 deaths due to the virus in the U.S. were Americans ages 65 or older. Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer turned 64 this month.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott tested positive for coronavirus but is asymptomatic and is exemplary of the fact that while NFL athletes in peak condition could not show symptoms or shrug off the virus, Zimmer and other staff his age are at a much higher risk of at the very least being hospitalized for several days.
The Vikings’ Week 11 opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Houston Texans — which the Vikings are scheduled to face in its first preseason game and Week 4 — have “several” confirmed cases on their teams, bringing into question what precautions will be necessary.
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Zimmer’s Proven He Can Adapt
This offseason has been as much of a learning experience for anyone as it’s been for Zimmer.
With the help of his son and Vikings linebacker coach, Adam Zimmer, Mike managed to not only partake in daily virtual meetings from his home in Kentucky but even become proficient enough the Vikings are comfortable continuing virtual training while many NFL teams have begun returning to their training facilities.
“[Adam] runs his meetings from downstairs, and I run them from up here,” Mike said in a virtual press conference. “It’s been good, because number one, he can help me get all this stuff organized. If I can’t get it figured out, I can text him and say, ‘come up here and fix this.'”
While Zimmer is eager to get to work with his team in-person he’s adjusted to coaching from his armchair.
“I really miss being around the players. Talking to them on the computer, the iPad or whatever, it’s not the same because I want to get out there and I want to coach them, correct them, teach them,” Zimmer told Fox 9 News. “Try to build the camaraderie we need with the football team.”
It could be a matter of simply keeping Zimmer off the sidelines on gameday or could be as extreme as him not leaving the state. Time will tell and the Vikings aren’t the only team that’ll have to assess how to return to normalcy while also ensuring the safety and health of their staff.
If Zimmer were to be absent from the sidelines, the Vikings players would surely miss Zimmer’s energy.
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