In one of the classier moves in Cincinnati or any other professional sports town, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer wrote an open letter to Bengals fans to say goodbye after the most successful run by any defensive coordinator in franchise history.
On Tuesday at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Zimmer said he wrote it from the heart and that it was easy to write. But the hardest part, he said, was reading it. Particularly the last section. The farewell to his players:
To Bengals Fans,
For the past six years I have made Cincinnati my home. I have come to love the area, the people and the city. It truly is a fantastic place with unbelievably caring people.
I was very fortunate to work with so many outstanding people at Paul Brown Stadium. Coaches, especially Marvin, and the defensive staff -- Jay, David, Paul and Mark -- to ownership -- Mike, Katie, Troy, and Paul -- and everyone behind the scenes that does such an outstanding job to make the Bengals a winner.
In the time I was there we have climbed to the top of the AFC North division. We have become one of the better defensive teams in the NFL and we hopefully have become a team that the fans are proud to watch. The fans have been unbelievable to me. They are passionate and respectful. You have made my time in Cincinnati very special. THANK YOU. I will never forget the respect that you gave myself and my family.
To the players, past and present, it was truly an honor to coach you. I tried to give you my very best each day. You should be proud of what this franchise has become. You have my ultimate respect and my goal was to make each one of you better than when you walked in. I hope I did. You are family to me.
We proved a lot of people wrong, didn't we? I loved watching you play on Sundays, and we always fought through the tough times. I am so proud to have been your coach. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, you will always be part of my life.
All my best and thanks for everything.