Sanders is the head coach at Jackson State and hired Zimmer as an analyst on his staff, first reported by HBCU Gameday on August 16.
“He’s asked me about it a few times. The pay’s not good,” Zimmer said with a grin on The Pregame Show. “But I do love Deion and I’d do anything for him. He can open up so many doors for these young men but I’m extremely impressed with the way he’s teaching them about life and not just football. And taking care of them, and talking to them about the real things that go on in the world and not the fluff stuff.”
Zimmer, an assistant for the Cowboys from 1994 to 2006, won a Super Bowl with Sanders as a defensive backs coach in 1996 before he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2000.
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Sanders Supported Zimmer Throughout Vikings Fallout
In the aftermath of general manager and Rick Spielman’s firing in January, Spielman went on a media tour, often hinting at what didn’t work with Zimmer in the final years in Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Zimmer was silent. But Sanders served as his mouthpiece in the following months.
In an airing of the Barstool Sports’ Pro Football Show, Sanders revealed that Zimmer and Spielman hadn’t spoken in months before being fired — unveiling a suspected divide in the building.
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“Yeah, we talked,” Sanders said of Zimmer following the end of his eight-year tenure with the Vikings. “He and their GM hadn’t spoken in months. It was just a downward spiral.”
Now, Zimmer is returning the favor, supporting Sanders in his quest of turning Jackson State into a Division I powerhouse program.
“The thing that’s most impressed me is how [Sanders] wants to educate his players not just football but with life,” Zimmer said. Trying to do the very best he can with these players, with the facilities he has here and take care of these guys. He cares about them and you can really tell.”
Sanders, a Mentor to Vikings 1st-Round Rookie Lewis Cine
A sign that the new Vikings regime made the right choice with its first-ever pick in the NFL draft was a glowing approval from Sanders the next morning.
“God bless @LewisCine he flat out earned EVERYTHING he has and gonna receive,” Sanders tweeted on April 29. “Great young man that has a bright future ahead of him. Be frugal my brother but take care of you. #CoachPrime.”
Minnesota selected Georgia safety Lewis Cine, who was the backbone of the Bulldogs’ national championship defense, 32nd overall.
But before draft night was years of hard work that Cine put in under the mentorship of Sanders.
Sanders scouted Cine at the Under Armour Future 50 camp, an invitational development camp extended to the top 50 underclassmen in high school football, in 2017. Sanders penned Cine as an “NFL first rounder,” according to The Underclassman Report. Approaching the draft, an anonymous scout told NFL insider Bob McGinn credited Sanders with discovering Cine.
Cine replied to a photo of him and Sanders at the Future 50 camp with a photo of him with his Vikings jersey.