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Zimmer, Players Laud Vikings Bond in Locker Room

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — They were a team in every sense of the word.

There was no division between offense, defense and special teams, as each member of the Vikings hand a hand in one of the most successful seasons in franchise history.

And while the Vikings came up short of a Super Bowl berth, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and his players spoke glowingly of the bond the players had in the locker room during the season.

"Unfortunately, we didn't reach the ultimate goal," Zimmer said. "I'm still proud of how this team went about their business this year and the things they were able to accomplish.

"The fortitude they had going throughout the course of the season and really the chemistry they had in the locker room," Zimmer added. "It's disappointing to lose, but we're going to try to figure out every possible way how we can improve so that we move forward next year."

Added Vikings running back Latavius Murray: "This is by far the most enjoyable year that I've had, the best locker room that I've ever been in. So I'm fortunate. I think it's a big reason for the success we had to this point, because of the guys that we had in this locker room."

There was plenty of success for the Vikings in 2017 as the team went 13-3 and won the NFC North title while earning a first-round bye.

Minnesota had seven total players named to the Pro Bowl while four of them — safety Harrison Smith, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, wide receiver Adam Thielen and defensive end Everson Griffen — were named First-Team or Second-Team All-Pros for their stellar play in 2017.

Thielen said the bond he had with his fellow wide receivers and other teammates was unlike anything he'd experienced in his NFL career.

"We have a phenomenal locker room," Thielen said. "Not only on the field, because I think we have some amazing football players, but off the field, it's been such a pleasure to be around these guys.

"Our receivers room, I've never had so much fun coming to work in my life, and I've never had so much fun playing football in my life as I had this year," Thielen added. "That's the honest truth."

Yet the team's togetherness wasn't just shown during an eight-game win streak during the regular season, or after "The Minneapolis Miracle" gave the Vikings a playoff win.

Even in rough times, the players stuck together and leaned on one another.

"I think there's a whole lot of cohesiveness in this locker room," said Vikings long snapper Kevin McDermott. "Something like [the playoff loss] happens, and some teams turn on each other or point fingers or play the blame game. There was none of that in our locker room.

"We have a bunch of characters, but no egos," McDermott added. "There's no one who is outshining everyone else, and everyone in the locker room cares about the team."

Minnesota's front office has turned the focus to the offseason, while players have scattered to rest up and recuperate after a long season.

But when spring workouts begin in a few months, the chase for a championship will continue, built on the strength of an unbreakable team bond.

"Next year there will be a lot of new faces, and hopefully we can have that same family, that camaraderie that we had this year," said wide receiver Stefon Diggs. "And everybody on this team, we really love each other. We're out there fighting for one another. You know, you want the best for your guys because you saw them go through it.

Added Vikings tight end David Morgan: "The guys in this locker room are incredible. The bond that we have and the people that we have in this room are incredible. We're going to do our work in the offseason and come back and hit the ground running and pick up right where we left off and keep building."

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