Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer is committed to the state of Minnesota and to its fans.
Since Nov. 1 when Zimmer underwent surgery for a detached retina in his right eye, he has had an additional seven procedures in an effort to restore proper eyesight.
In a recent interview with ESPN's Hannah Storm for SportsCenter, Zimmer was asked if at any time during the process he had considered the possibility of going blind in that eye. The head coach said that he had taken into account that scenario but that it hadn't been his biggest concern.
"It was more important to me to take care of the team than it was about my eyesight in my right eye," Zimmer told Storm, who expressed wonder at his response.
"That's the rest of your life," Storm said.
Zimmer cracked a smile when he answered.
"Yeah, well, this is the rest of my [life]; they're the rest of my life, too, the players," Zimmer said. "The fans, the organization – I mean, I just feel like I have a lot of responsibility to an awful lot of people, and if I can help them in any way possible, than I'm going to do it."
Zimmer said he's understands the long-term effects he'll experience if the eye doesn't fully recover. He also added, however, that he will still have "one good eye and am going to be OK."
"Minnesota Vikings fans deserve to win and win big," Zimmer said. "You know, they've been through a lot of different scenarios, a lot of different things, and I'm going to give them everything I can."
Tarkenton, Cunningham tabbed among 'best playmakers in history'
Scores of talented athletes have come through the NFL since the league's inception in 1920 – but who were the best ones?
In a recent article titled "NFL Nostalgia," Bleacher Report columnist Mike Tanier took a stab at the NFL's top 25 playmakers over the years. He specified that watchwords used in assembling the list were "versatility, elusiveness and consistency." Tanier wrote:
In short, these are the players who made things happen with the ball in their hands, year in and year out, with or without a quality supporting cast. Some of them redefined NFL strategies. A few infuriated their own coaches as much as they vexed opponents. All of them provided many unforgettable moments.
Three players who suited up for the Vikings for at least parts of their careers were on the list.
Hugh McElhenny came in at No. 17, tied with Joe Perry. McElhenny is highlighted for his time with the 49ers from 1952-60 before joining the Vikings for the franchise's first two seasons.
Joe Perry and Hugh McElhenny comprised one half of the "Million Dollar Backfield," which also consisted of quarterback Y.A. Tittle and halfback John Henry Johnson. The quartet drove the great San Francisco 49ers T-formation offense of the mid-1950s. They never won an NFL championship, nor did they ever earn close to a million dollars in a season, even combined. But they were great nevertheless.
Vikings Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton slid into the list at No. 16. He played a total of 13 seasons in Minnesota, first from 1961-66 and then again from 1972-78, after a five-year run with the Giants.
Tanier said the following of Tarkenton, who led the Vikings to three Super Bowls in the 1970s:
Tarkenton retired as the all-time leader in just about every quarterbacking category, although his records were later smashed by Dan Marino and Brett Favre and now by Manning-Brady-Brees types. As a quarterback, he ranks a notch below the best of the best. As a pure playmaker who could turn would-be sacks into video game-caliber touchdowns, he was the best of his era.
Randall Cunningham, another former Vikings passer, showed up at No. 6 overall on Tanier's list. Cunningham was included primarily for his time for the 11 seasons he spent in Philadelphia prior to donning Vikings Purple.
When it came to contortionist tactics to avoid sacks, windmill leaps at the end of scrambles and making up new moves just to survive, Cunningham was in a class by himself. He often looked like he was on the field by himself. And win or lose, he always put on a show.
Cunningham's peak year in Minnesota of course was the historic 1998 season, in which he was 259-of-425 passing for 3,704 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Cunningham threw more touchdowns that season than any year with the Eagles.
It was a little surprising when scrolling through to see that Randy Moss, who played with Cunningham in Minnesota, wasn't included in the list.