One of Mike Zimmer’s greatest advantages as the Minnesota Vikings’ head coach is his relationship with Bill Parcells, the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the New York Giants. When Parcells took over as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach in 2003, he kept Zimmer on board as defensive coordinator. Their close relationship began almost 16 years ago and continues stronger to this day, helping to influence the Vikings’ current winning ways.
After every Vikings game, Parcells texts Zimmer a comment, from words of congratulations to an observation or a question, all meant to help and inspire Zimmer. According to Parcells — per ESPN’s Ben Goessling — Zimmer regards the texts as “treasured gold.” That gold has helped Zimmer take one of the league’s worst defensive teams and turn it into a playoff contender. The Vikings, who host the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round of the playoffs this Sunday, finished the 2015 season as NFC North champions and potential postseason spoilers.
If history is any indication, Zimmer’s 2015 Vikings won’t suffer the same fate as Vikings teams of old. These Vikings are a resilient bunch, cut from the cloth of Bill Parcells himself. “They can’t ever call you a loser again, because we’re winners from now on,” Parcells told Zimmer after the Vikings beat the Chicago Bears and moved to 9-5 on the season. His words of relief and accomplishment echoed the same speech he gave the Cowboys after Dallas won eight games in 2003.
It’s a speech to inspire a team that’s lost badly on the national stage, to motivate a group of players that have little experience playing postseason football. Most of all, it’s a speech to inspire confidence and create the belief that the Vikings can beat the Seahawks this Sunday, no matter the previous results.