In 2009, Mike Zimmer’s life changed in an instant.
His wife, Vikki Zimmer, died unexpectedly of natural causes at age 50 on Oct. 8, 2009.
The Bengals defensive coordinator coached in Cincinnati’s 17-14 victory over Baltimore three days later, creating an emotional postgame scene when Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis gave Zimmer the game ball, and he broke down after a brief speech to his players.
Vikki’s funeral was two days after the Baltimore game, and caused another wave of emotion as the Bengals players and coaches attended, along with players and coaches from other NFL teams for which Zimmer was an assistant coach.
“She was the sweetest, kindest, most caring person who’d never say a bad word about anybody,” Zimmer told ESPN.com in a story published following her death.
Zimmer, the new Vikings head coach, has three adult children — Adam, who is an assistant defensive backs coach for the Bengals; and daughters Marki and Corri.
Adam, who turned 30 on Monday, said Wednesday that his father has waited a long time to get an NFL head coaching job.
“I think it means a lot because it’s something he’s worked for a long time and just hasn’t been able to get someone to get him that chance. I think he’s really excited about having the opportunity to prove everybody that didn’t give him the job wrong.”
“To me, he’s just had to get one team to like him. For whatever reason, they haven’t picked him. I think his record speaks for itself in everything but, for whatever reason, he just wasn’t the right fit for those teams and finally it was meant to be that he ended up somewhere that really wanted him.”
Adam Zimmer didn’t comment on whether he would be an assistant with the Vikings under his father.
Corri Zimmer wrote on Facebook: “I’m overwhelmed with emotion. Over the last 6 years I have grown such a love for the Bengals organization. Since then the Bengals have actually become a team that is taken seriously and I have watched my dad turned their [defense] into something great. With that being said I have also watched my dad be passed up for head coaching jobs year after year after year when he clearly deserved it. I am in tears as I am finally able to say that he is getting what he worked his BUTT off for all these years. It’s about time … and I am still in shock as I’m saying this … but my dad is officially the HEAD COACH of the Minnesota Vikings!!!!!!!!”
Peterson to miss Pro Bowl
Adrian Peterson will miss the Pro Bowl on Jan. 26 in Hawaii because of injuries he suffered late in the Vikings’ season. The running back has foot and groin issues.
Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy will replace him. There will be no AFC-NFC battle this year, rather the teams will be drafted from the Pro Bowl pool by Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice.
Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson was a late addition to the Pro Bowl as a kick returner.
On Wednesday, Patterson was named to USA Football’s “All Fundamentals Team” for players who “exhibit exemplary football techniques for youth players to emulate.”
• Vikings assistant General Manager George Paton has emerged as a candidate for the general manager’s job in Miami. Paton worked in the Dolphins front office from 2001 to ’06.
• Zimmer’s hiring as Vikings coach comes six years to the day he was brought in by the Bengals as their defensive coordinator.
• Zimmer’s high school, Lockport Township near Chicago, is also the alma mater of former Twins player Ron Coomer and Alando Tucker, who was briefly a Timberwolf in 2009-10.