Vikings offensive coordinator and former Super Bowl-winning head coach Gary Kubiak announced his retirement from football on Thursday afternoon. This was expected ever since reports came out right after the Vikings' season ended that Kubiak was leaning towards retirement, but now it's official.
Kubiak gave the following statement, via the team:
"It’s been the honor of my lifetime to work for 36 seasons as an NFL player and coach. I’ve been on a football field for most of my life, and now I look forward to stepping away from the game and enjoying more time with my family and friends. I offer my sincere thanks to the owners and fans of the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers for giving me opportunities to be a part of this great game and for treating me and my family so well over the years. I’ll miss the competition, the planning, game days and being part of a team. But, more than anything, I’ll cherish the friendships I've made along the way with players, coaches and staff. I love the game of football and will forever be its biggest fan."
Kubiak spent nine years in the NFL as a player and 27 more as a coach or executive. He won three Super Bowls in the 1990s as an assistant coach and one more as the head coach of the Broncos in the 2015-16 season. After previously retiring in 2017, Kubiak came back to work in the Broncos' front office, and then returned to coaching with the Vikings over the past two seasons.
He leaves behind a legacy as a coach who was beloved by his players and colleagues, and an innovator who had a major impact on the way teams run offense in the NFL. The wide zone scheme, which he learned from Mike Shanahan and passed down to many younger coaches, can be seen in various shapes and forms all across the modern game.
"Gary did a tremendous job with us at the Vikings over the past two seasons," Mike Zimmer said in a statement. "I have a great deal of respect for him as a coach and as a person, and I’m glad I was able to coach with him. He has had one heck of an NFL career as a player, assistant coach and head coach, and I am really happy for Gary and his wife Rhonda as they head off to their ranch. We will all miss Gary at the Vikings organization and wish him the very best."
What this means is that Zimmer, Rick Spielman, and the Vikings can now begin the process of looking for their next offensive coordinator. Whoever is hired will be the Vikings' sixth offensive coordinator to start the season in as many years. They'll go through an interview process with internal and external candidates –– including at least one external minority candidate –– before announcing the hire. So don't expect that announcement to come next week.
Kubiak's son Klint, who has spent the past two seasons as the Vikings' quarterbacks coach, might be the odds-on favorite for the job. Hiring Klint would give the Vikings a lot of continuity with their offensive scheme and gameplans. Other internal candidates who could be considered include offensive line coach Rick Dennison, who has worked with Gary for many years, and wide receivers coach Andrew Janocko. There's a wide pool of potential external candidates, including former head coaches like Anthony Lynn and Hue Jackson.
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