Ex-DC Cowboys join Deion Sanders coaching staff at JSU


Former Minnesota Vikings and Dallas DC Cowboys head coach Mike Zimmer looks on during an NFL game.

The Dallas Cowboys are seeing a reunion take place in Jackson, Mississippi, as Pro Football Hall of Famer and Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders adds to his staff.

With a football tree like the Cowboys, reunions and connections are always abundant. But “Neon Deion” is still making headlines, and its latest addition is also turning heads: Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer is a household name to most NFL fans, having spent the past eight seasons as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. However, older, well-informed Cowboys fans will recall that he formed Dallas’ coaching staff beginning in 1994 and eventually became the team’s defensive coordinator for seven seasons from 2000 to 2006. .

Now he’s taking his trainer to Jackson. Sanders first shared a clip of Zimmer speaking to the JSU roster, then Zimmer confirmed he was joining as an analyst for The pre-game show.

“He asked me the question several times. The pay is not good,” Zimmer joked at first. “But I love Deion and I would do anything for him.”


Whenever an NFL head coach joins a college football coaching staff, it’s a big deal. With this gig, it looks like Zimmer is maintaining his relationship with football but taking his time before getting a fully involved position again.

ALL the latest Dallas Cowboys news straight to your inbox! Join Heavy on Cowboys newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Cowboys!

Zimmer talks about Sanders’ coaching style

In his interview with The pre-game showZimmer was asked about Sanders’ training and the atmosphere he sees at Jackson State.

Zimmer obviously has jokes about his former defensive back, but he shared a sincere appreciation for the former Cowboys star’s willingness to talk about tough topics.

“He can open so many doors for these young men, but I’m hugely impressed with how he teaches them about life and not just about football,” Zimmer said. “And take care of them and talk to them about the real things happening in the world and not the fluff stuff.”

Sanders has seen it all in his well-decorated and eventful career. 14 seasons in the NFL must translate well, as Jackson State won the SWAC in 2021 under his leadership. Sanders was named the 2021 SWAC Coach of the Year.

Zimmer’s journey from Cowboys to Vikings HC

Zimmer was a “common thread” between several coaching regimes in Dallas, seeing the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones switch head coaches five times without ever being let go from 1994 to 2006.

After working closely with Sanders as the Cowboys’ defensive backs coach from 1995 to 1999, Zimmer’s took over the reins of defense as a whole in 2000, building some of the strongest defensive teams in Dallas to the over the past two decades.

2003 particularly stands out, as Dallas gave up the fewest yards in the NFL and allowed just 16.3 points per game. Zimmer eventually left for an unfortunate stint under Bobby Petrino with the Atlanta Falcons, before taking on the DC role with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2008 to 2013.

After 14 seasons as defensive coordinator, he finally got his first NFL head coaching job with the Vikings in 2014. Zimmer and Minnesota have always put together competitive teams, as the 66-year-old went 72-56 in his tenure.

But similarly to Dallas in recent years, it couldn’t get over the playoff bump. The Vikings went 2-3 in the playoffs under Zimmer, and the team opted out of the coach after the 2021 season.