Sportress of Blogitude

Mike Zimmer gives Vikings players ‘Beat the Packers!’ t-shirts

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The Minnesota Vikings sit at 7-2 and hold a one-game lead over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North heading into a huge showdown with their division rivals Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. Mike Zimmer, while only in his second season as the Vikings head coach, understands all too well the long record of futility his team has had against the Packers of late and did something for the players to make them understand the significance of Sunday’s showdown.

Vikings players were spotted Monday wearing black t-shirts that featured the NFC North logo and the word “North” on the front and the message “Beat the Packers!” on the back.

Zimmer admitted he was behind the t-shirt-based motivational tacticduring his press conference Monday. But when asked why he decided to get them printed up, he refused to attach a ton of significance to it.

“I don’t know,” he said, via the Star Tribune. “We’re making way too big a deal out of it. It’s just a t-shirt. A t-shirt. You can go down to the store and print them up. It’s not a big deal.”

Zimmer then pointed out his players don’t need t-shirts to understand the importance of Sunday’s game.

“I don’t think I’ll have to pull out any magic wands or anything like that,” he said. “I think they’ll understand.”

The Vikings are aware that even with a one-game cushion in the division, the path to an NFC North title still runs through the Packers. And Green Bay — despite its current three-game losing streak that has left the team reeling — has a huge edge in the rivalry recently, with the Vikings going 1-9-1 in its last 11 games against the Packers while losing by an average of 16.3 points.

Zimmer clearly has managed to push all the right buttons so far this season, providing his players with some kind of obstacle to overcome or pointing out some perceived slight to get them properly motivated for each game. The t-shirts may be meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but the message Zimmer was trying to convey is obvious nevertheless.