The Minnesota Vikings will face the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night without their head coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings coach had emergency surgery on his eye Wednesday and initially hoped he could resume coaching duties tonight. That will not be the case. Special teams coach Mike Priefer will be the head coach for the game.
General manager Rick Spielman said Thursday that Zimmer was having issues with his vision Wednesday and then went in for surgery on a detached retina. Zimmer had a follow-up appointment Thursday and will be at home resting Thursday night.
"We have to see how his eye responds to the surgery," Spielman said. "I do know how intense Coach Zimmer is. Talking with him today and with the doctors, as much as he wants to be out there coaching tonight, it's in his best interest that we get this taking care of. Coach Zimmer has never missed a game. I know how hard this is on him. I can't express how hard on him it is that he won't be able to coach. But we have to look after his health."
Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and offensive line coach Tony Sparano both have experience as head coaches in the NFL, but the Vikings chose to go with Priefer for this game. That decision was made because the team didn’t want to disrupt anything on offense or defense heading into the game, so they turned to the special teams coach. Zimmer was able to attend all practices and meetings this week, so the team prepared normally for the game.
Zimmer initially scratched the eye in late October and had his first surgery then, if he hadn’t he could have lost sight in that eye because of a detached retina.
Zimmer is an old friend of the Cowboys and is well-respected in these parts, we certainly wish him the best on his recovery.