Mike Zimmer’s edgy personality may not have been popular with everyone about Vikings.
The Vikings fired Zimmer as head coach and Rick Spielman as general manager on Monday after a second straight season of absence from the playoffs. The team received the news at the TCO Productivity Center. Spielman approached the team, but Zimmer did not.
Midfielder Eric Kendricks was absent from the facility due to being on the COVID-19 reserve list during Sunday’s finals, beating Chicago 31-17. Kendricks said in a Zoom media call late Monday that he was on the phone with Spielman and defense coordinator and midfielder coach Adam Zimmer, the former coach’s son. He said that at that moment he did not speak to Mike Zimmer.
“We’ve done a great job together,” Kendricks said when asked about his relationship with Zimmer, who took over as head coach in 2014, a year before Kendrix joined. “We ran well. It’s hard to know. It seemed to me that there was something wrong in our relationship. I think this is the question you should ask him.
Kendrix was later asked how he defines a good culture in a team.
“Generally speaking, a culture that puts communication first, and regardless of your role in staff, you have a voice and the ability to communicate things that you think can contribute to winning,” he said. “I think just having that voice, no matter how big your role, is important to listen and take into account each other’s feelings. I don’t think fear-based organization is the way to go. ”
On Monday, Zimmer did not respond to a message asking for comment, but made a statement through the team in which he said he “will miss the players’ training.”
The Vikings released three players to the media on Monday: Kendrix, receiver Adam Thielen and tackle Brian O’Neill. Thielen has been with Zimmer for eight seasons, and O’Neill has been with Zimmer for the last four.
Thielen said that he is “very grateful” and “has a lot of respect for Zimmer.” As for the next coach, Thielen said he needed someone who would be “a strong leader, a strong communicator and a strong employee.”
“There are many different areas in this building where you need really good people to help you succeed,” Thielen said of what he means to be an employee. “This is where collaboration begins. To be able to not just do it your own way. To have the help of others. … It’s just that everyone works together to achieve the same goal and have the opportunity to express constructive criticism. ”
O’Neill said “it was a tough morning for everyone in the organization.” He was asked how important it is for the next head coach to be an employee.
“It could be something like ‘Hello, how are you?’ In the hallway, or the feeling when you walk past the guys in the hallway and they say, ‘Hello, how are you? Good morning, ”said O’Neill. “We spend so much time together and the season is so long that little personal items here or there can make a huge difference to a young guy or newbie who comes in and is not quite sure if it’s right or belongs to him. … … The more we all, as coaches and players, can understand that we are doing this together, I think it will help make this place a better place. ”