Editor’s Note: In this installment of “Mind of Sabol,” we take a closer look at Dick Vermeil, legendary head coach of Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs. Let us know what you think about Steve’s famous card catalog by leaving a comment below or tweeting @NFLFilms with #MindofSabol.
“Dick Vermeil: A Football Life” airs this Friday, October 30th at 9PM/ET on NFL Network.
by Helen Modesett
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil has words with Eagles quarterback John Walton, July 31, 1976.
Dick Vermeil began his career as a NFL head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976. Like the two other teams he would go on to coach, they had a long losing record before he arrived.
Steve’s thoughts: “Covering the Eagles was a bit like being a homicide detective. You saw a lot of trouble.“
Underlined Section: Midway through Vermeil’s first year, 1976, the Eagles were the worst offensive team in pro football.
Highlighted Section: “Vermeil pushed himself from the beginning, but the people who knew him weren’t surprised.“
Philadelphia Eagles coach Dick Vermeil yells from the sidelines as his team played against the St. Louis Cardinals, Nov. 8, 1976, in Philadelphia.
Perhaps what made him such a successful coach was the amount of time and energy that he invested into his teams. He pushed them to their limits.
Underlined Section: “He worked long hours, was tough on his players and built his teams into winners.“
Highlighted Section: “But he put players through drills and workouts that you wouldn’t wish on a rented mule.“
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil observes his team limbering up during a workout at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Nov. 19, 1982.
Steve’s Thoughts: “Through it all, V somehow had the stuff to gather himself together after each disappointment and to recast the confidence of the players in themselves and the team.“
Steve’s Thoughts: “He never asked his players to do more than they could, but he never allowed them to do less either. Under V, their potential was realized and often exceeded“
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil watches his quarterback Ron Jaworski practice his passing during the team’s first workout in New Orleans, Jan. 19, 1981.
Steve’s Thoughts: “Whatever they were when they came into his orbit, they became something more under his influence. He sharpened their thinking and turned them into pros.“
Steve’s Thoughts: There is no mystery about Dick’s success. He taught from the blackboard but more from the heart. ‘The hardest thing about playing for him was being prepared for an assessment not just of your athletic ability but of your character’- Stan Walters.”
Steve’s Thoughts: “He taught from the blackboard but more from the heart. He won people the same way he won games- because he cared. But Dick’s career is not only about winning but about caring.“
Oakland Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett, left, accepts congratulations from Philadelphia Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil after Super Bowl XV in New Orleans, Jan. 25, 1981.
Underlined Section: But more than any other in his profession he captured the hearts and imaginations of the Americans of his time. Highlighted Section: But it was for quite a different contribution that he made his major impact upon both his day and the game. He brought an extra dimension to football and in particular to the teams he coached, which enabled the spectators to share in the emotions engendered by the struggle on the field far more than they had ever done before.
Steve’s Thoughts: “Vermeil changed team cafeteria from long tables to family tables (round) so the players could look at each other… is a coach who starts with a team and ends up with a family.”
Saint Louis Rams Kurt Warner, quarterback and Super bowl MVP holds hugs Head coach Dick Vermeil after the NFL Super Bowl XXXIV against the Tennessee Titans ,played on January 30 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
The Rams (163) defeated the Titans (164) 23-16.
Steve’s Thoughts: “A coach should be remembered for his entire career, for the whole day and not just the sunset.”
Underlined Section: One of just four coaches to lead two different teams to a Super Bowl (Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves and Shula)… NFL’s first special- Teams Coach…Only Coach to win the Super bowl and the Rose Bowl (with UCLA in 1876).
JANUARY 30 2000: Rams head coach Dick Vermeil celebrates after the St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans 23-17 to win Super Bowl XXXIV at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga., January 30, 2000.
Steve’s thoughts: “Part of puzzlement of Dick and part of the charm is the fact that he holds out his heart like a hand-off.”
St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil gets a victory hug from defensive end Bill Johnson (79) after his team beat the Washington Redskins 23-20 in the final seconds of the game at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover, Md. Sunday Nov. 30, 1997. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
“Dick Vermeil: A Football Life” airs Friday, October 30th at 9PM/ET only on NFL Network.