To be a writer is to be a reader, and I consume a great variety of content in a given week — from colleagues at the Star Tribune, from other sports writers and sports blogs as well as non-sports content (even books!).
But there might not be one piece of content I read more consistently than the transcripts of Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s news conferences. There are a handful every week; some of the pressers I see in person as well, but I always go back and read the transcript regardless. Part of it is for the knowledge gained. But part of it is to read Zimmer’s personality and style.
On Tuesday, in his season-ending session with the media, Zimmer said a great many things that were fascinating. A classic exchange:
Q: Do you expect the coaching staff to remain the same?
A: I don’t.
Q: Anybody that you can say now that you think will be missing?
A: Yes. I’ve not renewed the offensive line coach’s contract.
Q: Is Dan Campbell a possibility to replace Jeff Davidson?
A: Everybody is a possibility.
Q: Why didn’t you renew Jeff Davidson’s contract?
A: I didn’t want to.
It tells you everything you need to know about the Vikings’ offensive line and what Zimmer thought of it.
But I want to circle back on Zimmer’s opening statement Tuesday as well, as it reflects a common theme that he touched on several times in the past two seasons: his praise for TCF Bank Stadium, the Vikings’ temporary home for his entire tenure to date.
Said Zimmer on Tuesday: “I also think it’s been really a great two-year run at the University of Minnesota. There’s a lot of people to thank for the coordinated effort that it has taken to do that. It’s been good. It’ll be different for me now because that’s all I really know is going over there to that place, but hopefully we can get in the new stadium and get excited.”
Remember, that was unprompted, as part of his opening statement. Some of it might just be politeness, but I also get the sense that Zimmer really enjoyed having his team play at the U and in particular playing outdoors.
Perhaps there’s a part of him that also realizes this: the Vikings, who for years took advantage of playing in the elements before moving to the Metrodome for three decades and instead building teams built for speed and indoor comfort, have built a team that looks very comfortable in the freezing cold. It might even be a team better suited to play outside, one equipped to make it a true home-field advantage.
If Sunday’s playoff game would have been indoors at U.S. Bank Stadium, the style certainly would have been different. It’s not unrealistic to think Seattle would have thrown the ball up and down the field and that the Vikings would have had a hard time countering.
Instead, the Vikings lost 10-9 on a fluke.
Several players in recent weeks have talked about how excited they are to play in the indoor comfort of the fancy new stadium. I’m sure Zimmer will find plenty of charms, too, and there’s no reason a team built on defense can’t win inside as well.
But I also think Zimmer really meant it when he complimented TCF Bank Stadium … and that a part of him is going to miss the elements as the Vikings head inside again just as they are getting the hang of playing outside.