EAGAN, Minn. – "Adversity" seems to be a consistent word in Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's vocabulary.
It would be unrealistic to say that the Vikings are explicitly unique in the number of hurdles they've faced in recent years, but it does seem that curveball after curveball has been pitched at the organization since Zimmer took the helm in 2014.
Heading into 2020, of course, Zimmer and the Vikings – along with 31 other teams – are faced with navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in hopes of proceeding with a regular (but certainly not normal) season.
Zimmer spoke with media members after signing a three-year extension with Minnesota and was asked how he'll manage such a difficult circumstance.
"Probably the way I deal with everything else," said Zimmer, who proceeded to list a number of the challenges he's encountered during his tenure.
In 2014 during his first season as a head coach, he weathered the suspension of star running back Adrian Peterson.
Just before the start of the 2016 season, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a devastating knee injury, after which the Vikings made a last-minute, blockbuster trade for Sam Bradford, who made his first start in Week 2 during Minnesota's inaugural game at U.S. Bank Stadium (unmentioned by Zimmer, but of note, Peterson suffered a torn meniscus in that game).
In November 2016, Norv Turner resigned as the Vikings offensive coordinator. That same month, Zimmer suffered a torn retina in his right eye and underwent multiple eye surgeries, including an emergency procedure that sidelined him for the Vikings Thursday Night Football game against Dallas on Dec. 1.
In 2017, Bradford battled a nagging, season-long injury. Although worth noting, of course, is that Case Keenum filled in admirably and helped lead Minnesota to the NFC Championship game. After a 2-2 start during which phenom Dalvin Cook was lost for the season, the Vikings rallied with eight wins in a row and 11 of 12 to finish the regular season.
In July of 2018, the Vikings mourned the tragic and sudden death of offensive line coach Tony Sparano, a longtime friend and colleague of Zimmer's.
That September, veteran defensive end Everson Griffen spent five weeks away from the team to work through a personal matter.
View photos of Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer who signed a 3-year contract extension with the team.
So ask Zimmer about a global pandemic, and while he's absolutely taking the situation seriously, he isn't making excuses for himself or his team.
Zimmer acknowledged the "different offseason, different season and different practice" scenarios NFL teams are working through right now. He reminded, "It's a different world, too.," and emphasized the importance of adapting and rolling with the punches, like he's done throughout his career.
"Trying to come up with some innovative ways, how we can incorporate within the rules the things that we can do and still maintain a healthy environment for our players and our coaches, I think is the most important thing," Zimmer said. "Trying to figure out what's the best way to take advantage of the rules and be successful on the field, and at the same time still staying safe.
"We don't want any of our players to get this, or any of our coaches, or really anybody," he added.
View photos of Vikings veteran players returning to TCO Performance Center to kick off 2020 training camp.
Zimmer has led the Vikings through every unexpected plot twist, and he will continue to do so with the same resolve fans have come to recognize and appreciate.
"There's so many things that happen that kind of callous you to whatever [comes along]," Zimmer said. "Like Coach [Bill] Parcells says all the time, 'They're not going to cancel the game, so you've got to go out and figure out how to win it.' That's kind of what we have to do.
"All these things that have happened over the six years I've been here … you just have to keep your head down and go," Zimmer added.