The rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings goes back to the time when both franchises were expansion teams in the National Football League. Though not as 'old' as some franchises, the two organizations soon developed storied reputations for themselves in professional football. The success of each organization was often intertwined with the success of the other. On offense there was Roger Staubach vs Fran Tarkenton, on defense it was the Doomsday Defense vs the Purple People Eaters. On Saturday a twist of a different type takes place as former Dallas coaches Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner return to the city where each earned Super Bowl Rings.
Turner found his success first. As the Cowboys offensive coordinator from 1991 to 1993 he was the mastermind behind the success experienced with players named Aikman, Smith, and Irwin. His time at the helm of the Cowboys offense was short but successful. The efforts he put in for the Jones family and Jimmy Johnson soon resulted in his becoming the head man with the Washington Redskins and later the San Diego Chargers. Dallas is a place that Norv enjoys returning to occasionally. He should, Turner won rings in 1992 and 93.
"I always like going back there. Obviously, we had great success when I was coaching there." - Norv Turner
It is also a place where he has experienced some success as a member of the opposing team.
"When I was with San Diego, I know we went in there and had a really big win, so it's a good place to play,"
That success came in Turner's last game against the Cowboys. Overall he has a record of 6-10 against the team that he once worked for.
Turner left Dallas for the 1994 season, which also saw the arrival of his current boss, Mike Zimmer. Two years into his career Zimmer also won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Cowboys coaching staff. His stay in the Metroplex was longer than Turner's, Zimmer progressed from coaching the secondary in the nickel package to defensive secondary coach and finally to the position as defensive coordinator. He still maintains a home in the area. Since leaving Dallas Zimmer has been the defensive coordinator with both the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals. He took a long overdue promotion to head coach in 2014.
He too recalls his time in Dallas, and his association with the Jones family, with fondness.
"I'm friends with a lot of people there in the organization. The Joneses (owner Jerry and son Stephen, the executive vice president) were always really good, and Stephen and I talk a fair amount. They invite me to their hunting place a lot. I got down there quite a bit. And I've still got tons of people that I worked with in the building that I'm friends with." - Mike Zimmer
Like Turner, success against his former club has been hard to come by. Zimmer is 0-2 against the Cowboys since leaving the organization.
Cowboys fans still have a lot of respect for both gentlemen. Their names have come up in discussions for filling coaching vacancies (real or imagined) within the organization. Both men have earned their success and the respect of Cowboys fans. We look back on their time with the franchise with fondness and wish both of them success (but not too much). It will be good to see old friends back in the Dallas area this weekend.