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Zimmer: 'I Want to Grab These Players' Hearts and Get Them to Follow Me'

Updated: 01/17/2014 6:26 PM
Created: 01/17/2014 7:56 AM KSTP.com
By: Nick Tabbert

The Minnesota Vikings held a news conference to announce their newest hire Friday.

Mike Zimmer joined the team as head coach Wednesday. He is the 9th coach in the Vikings franchise history.

Zimmer said he has "a chip on his shoulder" and wants his team to play tough football.

"When you go play the Minnesota Vikings, you're going to have a full day's work ahead of you," he said.

While Zimmer admitted he doesn't expect to be "buddy-buddy" with his players right away, he did express the importance of leadership and honesty.

"I want to grab these players' hearts and get them to follow me."

The Vikings said they interviewed seven coaches in an eight-day span. Zimmer spent most of Tuesday with the Vikings in a second interview.

General Manager Rick Spielman said Zimmer's passion and football leadership stuck out most when choosing the former Cincinnati Bengal's defensive coordinator.

"There is no doubt he is the right guy for the Minnesota Vikings," Spielman said.

Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf did not speak at the press conference Friday, but earlier this week said he is excited to welcome Zimmer as the new leader of the Vikings.

“He has a proven track record of success at every stop in the NFL and we look forward to him maintaining that consistency here in Minnesota,” Wilf said.

Zimmer said his immediate agenda is to finish hiring his coaching staff and then start look at defensive players. He said there is no specific timeline for making the hires. When asked what he is looking for in a coaching staff, Zimmer said he wants leaders and motivators.

While Zimmer's coaching background is on the defensive side, he made it clear he wants to be in charge of decisions made on both sides of the ball.

Zimmer previously served as the defensive coordinator for Cincinnati. Zimmer's longest coaching tenure has been with the Dallas Cowboys, where he was part of the team that won Super Bowl XXX. One of Zimmer's players, CB Larry Brown, was named the game's MVP after a pair of interceptions.

His 2003 Cowboys defense led the NFL in fewest yards allowed at 253.5 yards per game, and six times during his tenure with the team the Cowboys finished fifth of better in the NFL in scoring defense. In 2009 with Cincinnati Zimmer's defense was fourth-best in the league with 301.4 yards allowed per game.

Zimmer earlier recorded a message to Vikings fans on YouTube, saying he is excited and can't wait to get to work.

The Vikings fired former head coach Leslie Frazier one day after they finished a 5-10-1 season. Frazier has since taken a job as defensive coordinator with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Click here to learn more about Zimmer's coaching history.

Also, be sure to see what KSTP's Joe Schmit and Nick Tabbert have to say about Zimmer's introduction.

Mike Zimmer speaks during a news conference Friday where the Minnesota Vikings introduced him as their new head coach.
Photo: KSTP/Jim O'Connell
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf, Head Coach Mike Zimmer, Owner/President Mark Wilf, and VP of Strategic Planning and Business Initiatives Jonathan Wilf.

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