General manager Rick Spielman said Thursday that Zimmer was having issues with his vision Wednesday. The team's medical staff first evaluated him before eye specialists then determined he would need the emergency surgery for a detached retina or risk consequences as serious as potential blindness in the eye, Spielman said.
Zimmer told NBC before Thursday's game he has another follow-up appointment scheduled for Friday morning. He said he could have to rest anywhere from three days to two weeks, and might not be able to fly to the Vikings' next game in Jacksonville on Dec. 11. If Zimmer couldn't fly, he said there's a plan in place to drive him to Jacksonville.
"We have to see how his eye responds to the surgery," Spielman said. "I do know how intense Coach Zimmer is. Talking with him today and with the doctors, as much as he wants to be out there coaching tonight, it's in his best interest that we get this taking care of. Coach Zimmer has never missed a game. I know how hard this is on him. I can't express how hard on him it is that he won't be able to coach. But we have to look after his health."
Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer will be the interim head coach against the Cowboys. George Edwards will resume his role as the team's defensive coordinator, which will certainly see increased pressure given Zimmer's expertise in the area.
Interim offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and offensive line coach Tony Sparano have both been NFL head coaches, and Shurmur assumed offensive playcalling duties when Norv Turner resigned Nov. 2, the same day Zimmer first discussed his eye surgery.
Zimmer had surgery to repair a torn retina on his right eye Nov. 1, after he had scratched his eye during the Vikings' loss to the Chicago Bears on Oct. 31. Doctors had initially told Zimmer he ran the risk of going blind in the eye if he did not have the first surgery.
He was back at work later that day but had a second procedure on his eye Nov. 8. His eye appeared bloodshot during a news conference Nov. 9, as the coach squinted against bright lights, but Zimmer said that day that his vision was good.
Asked that day if he had made any adjustments to his schedule because of the operation, Zimmer said, "No, it's back to work, back to the grind."