This is the Vikings' 61st season and they have had nine head coaches. That's not a huge number, considering the Gophers have employed 11 head coaches over the same period, and that excludes interim Jeff Horton's five games in 2010.
Mike Zimmer is three games into his eighth season as Vikings coach, putting him third behind Bud Grant (18 seasons) and Dennis Green (10) on the seniority list.
Making it to Year 8 with a modest three playoff appearances and two postseason wins has been a feat for Zimmer, when you consider the enthusiasm with which the owners, Zygi and other Wilfs, fired their first two coaches — Mike Tice and Brad Childress.
I have been among the conflicted on Zimmer. He had some problem-solving to do when taking over a 5-10-1 team from 2013, and he did that.
The return to competence was offset to a degree by untimely no-shows for Zimmer's squad. The worst of those came in January 2018. One week after being blessed with the Minneapolis Miracle, Zim's athletes choked early in Philadelphia, losing 38-7 to the Eagles in the NFC title game.
Zim's Vikings not only embarrassed themselves in Philadelphia. They embarrassed me, a noted football expert. I was on an ESPN national radio show that week and scoffed (scoffed!) when the hosts — Mel Kiper Jr. was one — suggested the Eagles had a chance against the Vikings.
It's hard to forgive Zim for that one, and who can forget the inept effort to conclude the 2018 season, the 24-10 home loss to a Bears team with nothing to play for that kept the Vikings out of the playoffs?
Throw in the 7-9 record in 2020 and there's not much doubt Zimmer will be done without a return to the playoffs this season.
Early this week, I sat down in the easy chair, as old-timers often do,and decided it was time to resolve my conflicted thoughts on Zimmer.
While contemplating, I glanced at startribune.com on the phone. There was Gophers coach P.J. Fleck once again claiming a loss was all on him, and then getting a bit defensive when a game-turning coaching blunder was mentioned.
"It's all on me'' after a loss as a 31-point favorite to Bowling Green doesn't cut it. Specifics are needed after such an abomination.
Also found was some amazing pap served by Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, the tandem one-third of the way toward completing their $1.5 billion purchase of the Timberwolves.
Lore and Rodriguez were part of an alleged media session with current owner Glen Taylor on Monday. The only thing worth talking about was the sudden firing of Gersson Rosas as the basketball boss as last week, and they chose not to address that.
We were reminded Lore will bring his philosophy of "three core values'' to the Timberwolves. Interesting. What are those? They haven't decided yet.
Maybe Rodriguez gave a preview to the Wolves' dozens of fans when he said this would be a "very flat organization where there's full transparency, fairness and honesty.''
I don't know about you, but when I look at A-Rod, those are the three qualities that come immediately to mind.
There were also some quotes from Rocco Baldelli, Twins manager, still finding positives while closing out a season that basically has been baseball's equivalent of "garbage time'' for four and a half months.
For sure, big congrats to Rocco and his bride on the arrival of baby Louisa Sunny Baldelli last month, but here's my fear: Being a new father could put Baldelli in such a euphoric state that his positivity becomes intolerable.
Seven, eight minutes on the phone screen … that's all it took to settle the conflicted view on Zimmer. My answer is: "Go, Zim, go.''
We're losing the battle here — candor vs. the overwhelming efforts of sports entities to control the message — and you're our beacon of hope.
All of us can detect your effort to stay close to the party line, but we know it's still in there, Zim: the impulse to respond to questions with something real, to express disappointment with specifics and not generics.
There's no outfit in our midst with greater desire and power to control the message than the Vikings. If the organization had its way, all local information would come from Vikings.com or a show hosted by Paul Allen.
We have evidence from way back in 2013 of football boss Rick Spielman's devotion to spin: the wonderful tape of him whispering answers to Josh Freeman as the quarterback was being asked questions on an introductory conference call.
When you leave, Zim, the Vikings will be getting a 40-year-old devotee to spin-o-rama — talk often, say nothing real. Someone of the Fleck profile, maybe Fleck himself.
Come on, Zim. Win 10 or 11, win a playoff game, stick around for a few more years. Supporters of the noble underdog in this contest, Candor, need you.