Former Minnesota Vikings assistant Terence Newman detailed the “toxic” environment in Mike Zimmer’s final years as the team’s head coach.
This is the first time that the Minnesota Vikings will enter the season without Mike Zimmer as their head coach since 2013. After failing to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, the Vikings fired Zimmer alongside general manager Rick Spielman following the 2021 season. There has been talk about Zimmer’s final years with the team, and players did criticize him upon his exit.
Now, there is more.
Go Long’s Tyler Dunne wrote about Zimmer’s final years as the team’s head coach in an article titled “It’s a new day for the Minnesota Vikings, Part I: Culture Shock” (subscription required). In it, former cornerback and defensive backs coach Terence Newman said he knows there were players who “dreaded going to work,” in that time.
“It became toxic,” Newman said, h/t GoLongTD.com. “It was a trickle effect. If players are dreading getting cussed out and s–t like that, then it’s going to make it a long day for everybody.”
Former Vikings assistant coach speaks on ‘toxic’ final days of Mike Zimmer as head coach
If you thought that quote was damning, there was more. An anonymous former coordinator for Zimmer told Dunne that they believe the Vikings will have quick success under new head coach Kevin O’Connell. The reason?
“Because the devil’s gone,” the anonymous coordinator said, h/t GoLongTD.com. “Satan is out of the building.”
Zimmer’s tenure did have its highs, such as the team’s run to the NFC Championship Game in 2017 and their upset win over the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round in 2018. Yet, there were its lows, such as missing the playoffs the last two seasons. But players have come out as of late regarding how Zimmer coached the team.
After the team fired Zimmer, linebacker Eric Kendricks said in regards to a new head coach, “I don’t think a fear-based organization is the way to go.”
Vikings cornerback Kris Boyd said that the old regime was “strict about everything” and that “anytime you messed up, [it was] like the world ended.”
Zimmer is now in the college ranks, serving as an analyst for Jackson State under head coach Deion Sanders. As for the Vikings, they begin the O’Connell era on Sept. 11, as they take on the Green Bay Packers.