Messages From The Mat to The Gridiron

By Brian Jerzak

One thing I have learned while covering both wrestling and football – coaches in both sports feel the two disciplines complement each other in ways that improve the athlete in both sports. Wrestling coaches routinely look to the football field each fall to find diamonds in the rough to add depth or fill a hole, especially in the upper weights. Football coaches, on the other hand, often encourage their athletes to wrestle because of the many crossover skills associated with each sport. One of the many football coaches who have used wrestling to help his football career is the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Mike Zimmer.

Although wrestling was not his first choice, the Illinois native quickly found a home on the mat.

“When I was in sixth grade I went out for the basketball team and did not make it,” said Zimmer. “My dad said ‘why don’t you come over to the high school and wrestle after school.’ That is pretty much when I started wrestling. I would walk down to the high school after school and wrestle with the freshmen.”

Zimmer had success right away.

“When I was in sixth grade, I was beating freshmen, so I thought I was pretty good at it.”

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