Zimmer worked with the team during practice on Wednesday afternoon, General Manager Rick Spielman said, but started having problems with his vision after that. He ended up having emergency surgery to repair a detached retina that night.
So while the Vikings continue to fight for a playoff spot against the team with the best record in the NFL, their coach will be resting at home.
"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 taken care of,” Spielman said Thursday. “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."
Zimmer had surgery for a torn retina on Nov. 1 after injuring his eye during a game against the Chicago Bears the day before. He returned to work later that day but had "another thing done" to his eye on Nov. 8. During a news conference the next day, Zimmer’s eye appeared bloodshot, but he said his vision was good.
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as the interim head coach on Thursday night.
"This morning I think Coach Zimmer finally realized how significant this injury is," Spielman said earlier in the day. "...We determined it was not worth the risk for him to be out there coaching tonight."