Page 34 - The Hunt - Summer 2022
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On the eve of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dick Vermeil reflects on a remarkable NFL career and almost 40 years in the Brandywine Valley.
Is Dick Vermeil going to cry in August when he’s inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? “Probably,” says the long-retired NFL coach, relaxing in his custom log home on a former swath of King Ranch acreage in Chester County.
“I used to embarrass myself, then I gradually learned to accept what I am—an emotional guy. It liberated me. Emotion and sincerity add to your ability to connect.”
Vermeil is one of only seven coaches to lead different franchises to the Super Bowl—the 1980 Philadelphia Eagles and the 1999 St. Louis Rams. For a while there, he’d walk through tunnels in opposing stadiums and hear, “Hey, Vermeil. Why don’t you cry for me?”
“I used to be so conscious of it,” he says. “I felt like giving them the middle finger. But then, I figured the cameras were on me.”
Hall of Famer Tom Landry was the polar opposite.
As stoic as a stone, he once gave Vermeil a finger— pre-game from the 50-yard line during the 1978 season. This was before Vermeil’s Eagles started beating the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach. It was the come-hither index finger. “He told me I was doing a really good job in Philadelphia, but that I had to learn to relax and pace
myself,” recalls Vermeil. “I thanked him for the advice. Obviously, I didn’t listen.”
Vermeil, who turns 86 in October, will become only
the 11th coach inducted into the Hall of Fame in the
past 26 years, and just the 28th coach ever enshrined. A recent process designed to further recognize coaches and contributors helped where his overall coaching record, 126- 114, didn’t. But those so-so numbers don’t tell the whole story. In three NFL head coaching jobs, Vermeil won 35 percent of his games the first two years, 74 percent of them by the third year and 63 percent thereafter.
Vermeil’s first NFL head coaching job came in 1976 with the Eagles. In seven years, he led them to four consecutive playoff appearances and Super Bowl XV—the team’s first, though a loss to the Oakland Raiders. Vermeil first retired from coaching following the 1982 season, then spent the next 15 years in sports broadcasting. By 1997, he’d returned as head coach in St. Louis, ultimately leading the Rams to an unlikely Super Bowl XXXIV
win. After that, there was a five-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2001 to 2005. These days, the daily UPS bulk deliveries and trash bags full of flat mailers are testaments to his popularity. They’re filled with items for him to sign, which he does for up to two hours a day. “It’s a responsibility,” he says.
32 THE HUNT MAGAZINE summer 2022

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