Vikings: Zimmer won't coach Thursday game

Vikings: Zimmer won't coach Thursday game

The Vikings played a video clip of Zimmer encouraging the team during training camp with a get-well-soon message on the scoreboard prior to kickoff.

Special teams coach Mike Priefer will fill in for Zimmer on an interim basis, according to the team. The retina is a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye.

Spielman said the decision was made following the surgery to fix a detached retina in Zimmer's eye, a problem that has worsened since he tore that retina during a game against the Chicago Bears Halloween night. "I think after we met, I expressed to him specifically that potentially going blind in one eye is not worth one game in the National Football League". The Vikings and Cowboys played previous year in the preseason. "So, the doctors, after the game, they checked and had me get in for an appointment and I found out that I had a torn retina".

Interim offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and offensive line coach Tony Sparano have both been National Football League head coaches, and Shurmur assumed offensive playcalling duties when Norv Turner resigned November 2, the same day Zimmer first discussed his eye surgery.

Spielman will speak with the media on a conference call Thursday morning at 10.

Zimmer served as an assistant with the Cowboys from 1994-2006, the last six seasons as defensive coordinator. That's when he was diagnosed with a torn retina. The Vikings hoped at that point, Spielman said, that the second surgery would alleviate Zimmer's vision problems, but the coach's vision declined Wednesday afternoon, and doctors determined Zimmer would need emergency surgery. Zimmer mentioned recently he's been arriving at his office even earlier than usual, around 4:15 a.m.

Spielman would not discuss any long-term medical ramifications for Zimmer, including whether he could be at risk of permanent eye damage.