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Mike Zimmer Almost Didn't Come To Minnesota

The Vikings coach was so discouraged after being turned down for multiple head coaching jobs, including one before the Vikings interview, he almost declined the Vikings request to interview

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

I think, at least so far, Minnesota Vikings fans couldn't be happier with new coach Mike Zimmer.  From the moment his name was linked to the head gig, fans seemed to coalesce around the longtime defensive coordinator, and here on DN we even started an unofficial 'Zimmer Watch'.

From the moment it was announced he was hired, Zimmer has said--and done--all the right things. From acknowledging his Midwestern roots, to making former players and coaches a part of the current team while linking to the heritage of this team, to overhauling the defense in his eyes, I would have a hard time finding a coach that's had a more popular honeymoon period than Zimmer has had with the Vikings and the fans.

It almost never happened, though.

After 20 years as an assistant, and numerous rejections in head coaching interviews, Zimmer was ready to give up in his quest to be an NFL head coach. Before he came to Minnesota, he had an interview with another team, and was, obviously, not picked for the job.

When yet another team picked another candidate instead of him this winter, Zimmer was discouraged enough to consider skipping a second interview with Minnesota and giving up on his goal altogether.

''I felt like it was a perfect fit. Since the day I've walked in, I don't think it could have been a better situation for me,'' Zimmer said. ''Thank God that I did do that. I think what it does show you, though, is you've got to keep persevering all the time, no matter how despondent you get at certain times.

''When I was thinking about not going on the visit, it had nothing to do with the Vikings. It was just kind of the feeling of a loss until you get over it and then you go about your business.''

Wow, maybe I missed it, but I had never heard that A) Zimmer had interviewed with another team this past off season besides Minnesota, and B) he almost turned down the Vikings request to even come to Minnesota and interview. And one of the reasons he didn't, or at least hinted at, is because he never felt prepared enough for an interview. Why? Becauae he was too worried about making sure his current team WAS prepared.

Although he seemed to desperately want a head coaching job, he felt a loyalty to his team at the time, the Cincinnati Bengals. And he always defaulted towards preparing for a playoff game as opposed to preparing for an interview, to his personal detriment.

"I hear guys say the last couple weeks at the end of the season they're preparing their stuff for their interviews, and I'm like, I'm never doing that," Zimmer told USA TODAY Sports on Friday in his office at Paul Brown Stadium. "My job is to take these players and try to do the best we can every week. I don't even look at that until after it's done.

You try to balance what's more important. Well, personally, this might be more important to you. But for all these guys that have busted their rear ends and sweat and fought all year for you (it's not). Teams don't want to wait. I understand that, too."

If you guys have read my stuff for any period of time (I simultaneously thank you and worry for your mental health if you have, but you also truly humble me) I felt that this franchise turned a corner when the new stadium was approved. It continued with the hiring of Zimmer, and Zimmer's subsequent hiring of his staff. It rolled on through the off-season, which saw Minnesota win the Super Bowl LII-do, WHOA OH OH OH OHHHHHH OHHHHHH bid in an upset over New Orl [FUCK THOSE GUYS], a successful free agency, and what looks to be another fantastic draft class.

I know I'm a 'glass is half full' kind of guy this time of year, and I'll probably be 200 pounds of rompin' stompin' cynicism in about three months, but I believe that when you look at the last three drafts, free agency, the new stadium...and the new coach and his staff...this team has changed the 'winning a Super Bowl in Minnesota' from 'if' to 'when'. Why do I think that?

Because the Vikings seem to be heading in the right direction, and between the front office, the coaching staff, and the players, everyone is on the same page, and they have the same goals. Sure, everyone on every NFL team ever spouts the standard 'our goal is to win the Super Bowl' every year, but this team, from the front office to the equipment guys, are all rowing in rhythm and in the same direction.

Yet still, even though Zimmer is a guy that had to wait longer than most, he's doesn't seem to be the type of guy that is just happy to be here, either:

"I try not to think about it. But people mention it to me a lot, obviously. I remember (Bill) Parcells saying one time, 'You always have to find out if you can go play the big room in Vegas.' That's really what it's about."

Yeah, that really what it is all about. Let it ride, coach. Let it ride.