Preparing for a season during the COVID-19 requires some sacrifices, and Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer took one for the team.
Sportswriter Peter King visited the Vikings training facilities in Eagan Minn., to get a glimpse into the new normal of the NFL. The first thing he took notice of was the 40-foot testing trailer stretching across several parking spots, including where Zimmer once parked his King Ranch F-150.
His response was what you’d expect from the no-nonsense 64-year-old: “what the f***!”
“But Mike gets it,” Vikings Infection Control Officer Eric Sugarman told King. “He gets it because he has to get it. Every head coach has to get it this year. That doesn’t mean they’re gonna like it.”
The trailer which has four stalls for players and staff to be tested before they enter TCO Performance Center is just one of the many renovations the Vikings have made to accommodate player safety and social distancing as they anticipate introducing players to training camp on Thursday.
Follow the Heavy on Vikings Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Zimmer’s Contract Questions Could Add to Distractions
The 2020 season has already been unprecedented. Given the NFL’s lack of preparedness so far, it seems many teams will be adjusting on the fly. Star Tribune columnist Chip Scoggins suggested that amid a season with unlike any other in NFL history, the Vikings need to sign Zimmer as a pillar of stability for the franchise.
Both Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman are entering the final year of their contracts. As of now, it seems they’ll let both leaders operate the team in a lame-duck season, which throws both in untested waters in the midst of a pandemic.
Here’s a section of Scoggins’ column:
Why force a coach with a proven résumé to enter a make-or-break season in the middle of a pandemic that wiped out the entire offseason and could bring in-season disruption?
What is the harm in adding two years to Zimmer’s contract? From a purely business perspective, that equates to a severance package if ownership ultimately chooses a new direction, not an unbreakable marriage.
Same thing with General Manager Rick Spielman, who by all accounts also is entering the final season on his contract. Adding a few years to his deal makes sense too.
Zimmer has the 10th best record (57-38-1) among active NFL coaches and has done so with four different starting quarterbacks in his six seasons with the Vikings. The offense has seen its highs and lows, but the defense, Zimmer’s chief responsibility, has been among the NFL’s best since he took over.
After releasing five starters on defense and having rookies who are already lagging behind in normal offseason preparation, concerns over his contract would be another distraction for Zimmer in a year he should be focused on reshaping his defense.
The Vikings generally open training camp with the announcement of contract signings, but with Dalvin Cook’s contract negotiations among other concerns, it remains to be seen if Zimmer’s deal has been pushed to the back-burner.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.