MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has often spoke glowingly about his father, Bill, and the influence the beloved old football coach had on his son choosing to walk the same path.
So a day after Bill Zimmer’s passing, it was no surprise to see Mike Zimmer seeking refuge on the fields at training camp as he mourned his father’s passing.READ MORE: Undefeated Gophers Getting Along Just Fine Under Ben Johnson
Bill Zimmer died Tuesday night at the age of 84, and Mike Zimmer was on the practice field on Wednesday getting back to the business of football, as appropriate a tribute to his dad as anyone could make.
“It’s been rough,” Zimmer said, his voice catching and tears swelling in his eyes. “My dad was a heck of a mentor. I got some letters from some people saying what an influence he had on a lot of people’s lives. He had been sick, but we didn’t expect it.”
Zimmer planned to finish out the week with the Vikings, coach in the preseason game on Saturday at home against Tampa Bay and then fly to Florida for the funeral on Sunday.
He said being around his players and coaches, including his son Adam, who is a linebackers coach, helped him deal with the difficult news.
“You get out here and you go to work and you get around the guys,” Zimmer said. “That helps, too.”READ MORE: Vikings Leaning Hard On Justin Jefferson In Quest To Save Season
Zimmer took some time away from the team earlier in camp to visit his ailing father. On Wednesday, his coaches and players rallied around him, eager to lend their support.
“We’re sending all our blessings and our love and just showing our support,” running back Adrian Peterson said. “It’s a sad time anytime you lose a family member. I can only imagine losing your father. I’m just happy they had the opportunity to go see him before he passed.”
Peterson did not practice on Wednesday after hobbling off the field Tuesday evening with a bruised thigh. He said had it been the regular season, he would be ready to play this weekend.
“We all held our breath for a second (when it happened),” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “But Adrian is fine.”
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