The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

January 15, 2014

Reports: Vikings name Zimmer as coach (updated)

EDEN PRAIRIE — The Minnesota Vikings have chosen Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as their new head coach, according to multiple media reports.

Zimmer will replace Leslie Frazier, who was fired after the team finished 5-10-1 this season. Zimmer will be the ninth head coach in the franchise's 54-year history, according to reports that emerged Wednesday.

General manager Rick Spielman interviewed at least seven candidates for the job including Zimmer, who spent Tuesday at Vikings headquarters. Zimmer has been an NFL defensive coordinator for the last 14 seasons, six with the Bengals. He has 20 years as an NFL assistant on his resume.

Zimmer also interviewed for the vacancy in Tennessee, which went to Ken Whisenhunt. He has been a candidate for the top job several times in the past, too, including with Cleveland, Miami and Tampa Bay.

The Bengals were third in the league in yards allowed and fifth in points against this season. After the team lost in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year and Zimmer surfaced as a leading candidate around the league, Bengals cornerback Terence Newman said tweeted: "Mike Zimmer is and always will be the best option to be head coach who is not one."

Several Bengals tweeted similar praise after the news emerged Wednesday, including linebacker Rey Maualuga: "Gonna miss you coach Zimmer! Wish you nothing but the best in Minnesota. You brought out the best in each of your players! So honored to have been coached by you!"

The 57-year-old played at Illinois State and spent 14 seasons coaching in the college ranks before being hired in 1994 as an assistant with Dallas. He got a Super Bowl ring the following season as defensive backs coach. Then he became defensive coordinator of the Cowboys in 2000 and spent seven seasons at that post, the last four under coach Bill Parcells. Zimmer led defenses in Dallas that operated in both the 4-3 and 3-4 alignments, including the 2003 group that surrendered the fewest yards in the league.

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