Mike Zimmer: Coach’s public display of annoyance delights fans


Mike Zimmer is a straight-shooter who isn’t afraid to let it fly in front of cameras.

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If you ever questioned Zim’s reputation for wearing his heart on his sleeve (largely earned via his appearances on Hard Knocks), Thursday’s press conference should have erased all doubt.

It was the final day of Vikings camp at Mankato and Mike Zimmer was not happy with the effort he saw from his players. So he cut short morning practice. And then he hit the press conference podium, having not entirely composed himself.

What followed can only be described as great theater.

Zimmer’s annoyance at his players’ poor effort was there for all to see. It was there in his curt responses. It was there in his body language. It was written all over his face. And fans could not have been happier.

Zimmer’s willingness to stand before the assembled media and be painfully blunt in his assessment of his players’ effort is not just great entertainment, it’s a refreshing sign of real leadership.

Coaches sometimes put on a tough-guy act in order to “send a message,” but it’s obvious with Zimmer that this is no act.

From day 1 Zimmer showed players and fans what kind of guy he was going to be. He was going to be vocal in practice. He was going to be straight-forward with his guys, sometimes profanely so. And he wasn’t going to sugar coat things in front of the press.

There would be no cliches from Mike Zimmer. No generic blurtings about “correctable mistakes.” No Leslie Frazier deer-in-the-headlights crap.

To understand why Viking fans find Zimmer’s approach so refreshing, you need only go back to Frazier’s years as head coach. The franchise then seemed rudderless, and Frazier’s woeful performances before the media only served to reinforce this impression.

With Zimmer, you get the sense that the team has a true leader, a true identity. Frazier was in over his head; Zimmer has the bull by the horns. That’s what we see.

Not since the days of Jerry Burns have the Vikings been led by such a feisty, irascible, no-BS figure as Zimmer. I doubt we’ll ever see a full-on Zimmer meltdown to rival Burns’ famous press conference rant, but that doesn’t mean Zimmer lacks fire.

If you watched Zimmer on Thursday, you know he has fire. He doesn’t need to breathe fire to prove it. He just shows you the smoke and you know: this guy means business.

How great is it having a coach who doesn’t need to fake it? Doesn’t need to swing his d–k around like Mike Tice. Doesn’t talk in moronic look-how-smart-I-think-I-am riddles like Brad Childress. Isn’t a clueless platitude-puking stooge like Leslie Frazier?

It seems the Vikings finally got it right with plain-talkin’ Zimmer. Now let’s hope Rick Spielman can give him the players he needs to make it work on the field.

Next: Mick Tingelhoff enters Hall of Fame

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