When Mike Zimmer finally got his first head coaching opportunity with the Minnesota Vikings, the move was met with near-universal praise. Or at least as near to universal as you can get in the National Football League.
But Zimmer revealed at the NFL’s Career Symposium in Philadelphia that his hire was very close to not happening.
Zimmer told the gathered attendees, many after the same position Zimmer now holds, that he almost withdrew from the Vikings coaching search after learning that he had been passed over from another coaching job, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports.
While Zimmer did not specify the job in question, Garafolo speculated that Zimmer was referring to the head coaching vacancy of the Tennessee Titans. Zimmer interviewed for the job, but the team ended up hiring Ken Whisenhunt instead.
After seeing the news, Zimmer started to have doubts that he’d ever be more than a career assistant coach.
“I almost didn’t go [to his second interview with the Vikings], yeah, I was so disappointed,” Zimmer told Fox Sports. “It was like, ‘Why even do this?’ It was to that point. I figured I was getting too old. I thought, ‘Forget this.’
But Zimmer said he talked to a few people who encouraged him, and made him get on the plane to Minnesota. The second interview with the Vikings got him the head coaching job he had sought for so long.
Garofolo wrote that the second interview made Zimmer realize Minnesota was a better fit for him than he initially thought, and a new chapter of Vikings history was born.
Zimmer stressed the persistence it took for him to become a head coach to those gathered to listen to him. Zimmer said he thought about changing his approach after rubbing some teams the wrong way in interviews, but ultimately he became a head coach with the Vikings by being himself.
“One of the things we did talk about was how people will tell you, ‘Say this to get the job, say that to get the job.’ If you dod that and you do get the job, it’s probably not going to be the right one,” Zimmer told Fox Sports. “The right situation is more important than any job.”
Zimmer has yet to be on the sideline for a Vikings game, so the history of his time in Minnesota is yet to be written. But regardless what happens in the future, we now know that his tenure started with one crucial decision to get on a plane.