To Vikings coach, losing an eye not as bad as losing a game

We understand the whole “tough guy” thing that dominates football, but Vikings coach Mike Zimmer might be taking things a little too far in elevating the importance of a sport that has a way of destroying its players to keep its fans happy.

Zimmer has been battling a still somewhat mysterious eye ailment since last season. He’s had eight procedures on his eye.

Earlier this summer, Sports Illustrated asked the coach if he regretted “sticking it out” last season.

“Part of my nature, I’m always talking to our team about being tough,” Zimmer said. “That’s the culture I want to present here. And I thought it’d be counterproductive if, the first time something happens to me, I go in the tank. A lot of it had to do with that. I continued to push through it, and I really didn’t do anything I wasn’t told to do. Maybe this last time, I was told to stay out of a little more than I had in the past.

“But it wasn’t anything where [doctors] said, ‘You shouldn’t go to work or do this or do that’, and then I did it. They knew the situation and they allowed me to be a little more aggressive. I don’t know. Maybe that wasn’t the right thing.”

It’s not much of an issue, Zimmer told SI’s Peter King this week. He’s still got a good eye.

And there’s football that’s more important.

“I feel really strongly that I do this for the fans, for the team, for the organization — I have to do what’s best for the team, not just what’s best for me. Depth perception, close up work, is hard, but people in all walks of life do it all the time. It’s just part of life.”

There was a pause, Zimmer sitting on his golf cart before practice, squinting a bit.

“It’s a little hard,” he said. “But losing games, that’s worse.”

Because you wouldn’t want to disappoint football fans.

  • Ralphy

    I played in the 60’s and 70’s.
    The mantra was “Never let them know you’re hurt.” I can remember coaches screaming at injured players “Get up! Get up you pu$$y!”
    Now I have an annual MRI and go through cognitive testing. And hurt all over. All the time. It wasn’t worth it.
    I have not watched a football game in over 15 years. It is a savage sport that destroys people, kills people, for entertainment and betting. I won’t be a party to it.

  • Mike

    Given that football appears to be a nexus of all the important things in American life – bureaucracy (committee meetings, or huddles), violence, worship of a certain type of toxic masculinity, and of the military-industrial complex (which subsidizes it) – clearly the health concerns of a mere human being rank dead last.

    Everyone has to make patriotic sacrifices; Mr. Zimmer is prepared to give an eye for the higher cause of our state-sponsored bread and circuses.

    After all, nothing is more important than football.

    • Rob

      I loooove this comment. Legalized brutality and TBI “R” Us!

  • Al

    I could take or leave football, but I get the guy when he says he loves to win. That feeling of camaraderie when you’re firing on all cylinders… that’s the best. (Unless that’s not why he loves winning, in which case, ignore what I just said.)

  • Gary F

    He gets paid millions of dollars to coach players that are getting paid millions more than he is. Those million dollar players are getting paid to do a risky job that could could give them permanent injury, or even death.

    Part of the trade off to make millions of dollars. Not for me.

  • BJ

    I love his ‘loyalty’ to a team that if they loss just enough games will fire him without a second thought. How great will he feel about it at 70, 80.

  • Jeff

    There’s no ‘eye’ in TEAM.

  • Jeff

    A lot of people are driven to put their health at risk for their job. I don’t think this is out of the ordinary even if it’s “just football”.