Tough goodbye

Posted: 4:10 p.m.

The Bengals who knew her best, head coach Marvin Lewis and safety Roy Williams, summed her up best as the team prepares to say goodbye to Vikki Zimmer at Tuesday's Mass at Holy Cross Immaculata Church in Cincinnati.

Williams has known Vikki and Mike Zimmer since 2002, when he was a first-round draft pick of the Cowboys. Mike was his defensive coordinator, and Vikki would send encouraging notes, not to mention those sumptuous baked goods her husband never wanted Williams to touch because he's always watching his weight.

"She was like a mother figure to me," Williams said Monday. "Being a rookie and then coming here to Cincinnati with Zim and the family ... I was shook. Thursday and Friday nights, I didn't go to bed until the time I had to get back up."

Williams could still taste her brownies with the marshmallow frosting she baked last Monday after the Cleveland win.

"I didn't have any until after he left the room. A couple of days, they were still good. They were sitting in our DB room," Williams said. "Miss Zimmer was the rock of that family holding them together. I'm not saying that they're going to fall apart now. That was the bright spot in Zim's life. You could really feel it. He was shook. That win really helped him and his family. It was very good for him."

Vikki Zimmer got it. She understood what coaches and players and football families need to survive the arduous life of moving, criticism and absences. Lewis, who has known the Zimmers since Mike coached at Weber State and he coached at Idaho State, got it that she got it. He recalled on Monday the get-togethers she would have for the coaches' wives during away games.

It was to Lewis that Zimmer made one of his first calls on that awful Thursday night. It was Lewis who called the other coaches and several gathered numbly at the condo talking deep into the night. It was Lewis who offered a window into her personality Monday that showed while things could be tough on her, she could still make things easier for others.

"She really did (get it)," Lewis said. "And obviously she's new to the city, we're 0-8 last year, it was a tough year. Unfortunately, both of her parents passed away last year during the fall, so it was obviously a very difficult time for her. Mike is a coach's coach. His dad was a coach. So he's got that mentality. He's always a coach, so she was a coach's wife.

"You have to have your own independence. You have to be supportive. It takes a unique personality, and I think she had that. She was one to want to have the wives to her home for things if we were away on the weekend, and so forth, the whole condo unit over there where they live. And just how thoughtful she was to everybody. The candy dishes out front for Halloween and everything. Just amazing. I think everybody that she met; they left her feeling good after they had a chance to meet her. That's how I will remember her, the smiles she brought to people's faces."

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