Dick Vermeal built a career spanning five different decades from being a careful, unreliable, attentive and soft-hearted head football coach. Those attributes helped earn the 85-year-old a spot on stage at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
As Saturday approaches, vermeil continues to grow with more and more consumption.
“The closer I get to the day, the more I realize what’s going on,” he recently told reporters.
Although Vermeal hasn’t coached in the NFL in 17 years, he’s preparing for this weekend as if he’s facing an old opponent again. Ever since Hall of Fame Rams quarterback Kurt Warner came knocking at his old coach’s log cabin home in East Follow, Pa., six months ago, Vermeel has become obsessed with what he said on Saturday.
Countless hours produced scores of impeccably constructed hand-written notes, which he has condensed into the speech of a lifetime. It has been a challenge for Vermeel to narrow down his thoughts about an NFL coaching career with successful stints in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City, which produced division titles and a pair of Super Bowl appearances in each location – giving the Raiders one. Losses Super Bowl XV with the Eagles, and a championship with the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Vermeal can tell you how many other Hall of Famers (360) have been inducted before him and how many other coaches have been inducted before him (27). However, he cannot explain how he will be able to fit his football life into the eight minutes allotted for each motivator’s speech.
“I think about it every day. What to say in eight minutes,” Vermeel told the St. Louis-Post Dispatch.
Does he have time to talk about his life as the son of an auto mechanic in Calistoga, where he now has his own liquor business? Should he tell about his two years as quarterback at San Jose State, as he recently did with reporters? Vermeel noted that it was fitting that the Spartans went 5–14–1 during their 1956–57 season.
“I was a below average player, but we were a below average team, so I fit right in,” he said.
Is it time to mention his coaching career as an assistant at Delmar High in San Jose in 1959? Should he point out that his first head coaching job was in 1960 at Hillsdale High in San Mateo?
And what about his time as head coach at UCLA and Napa Junior College, where he won Conference Coach of the Year honors after winning the title?
Vermeal’s NFL record speaks for itself. He can leave those details – a 126-114 (.526) career record – for others to share. Plus, he acknowledges the nuances of his career “help you feel great about yourself when you’re 85.”
He would take the time to reflect on how long, sleepless nights – and 18-20-hour workdays – ultimately forced him out of coaching at age 46 when he took over as Eagles coach after seven seasons. left. and his return to the shore 14 years later, when he took on a moderate Rams team and turned them into “the greatest show on the turf”.
A notorious brash man who later turned that gift into a 15-year career as a football broadcaster, Vermeel never found a story he didn’t think deserved to be expanded upon. Maybe that’s why Vermeal is the last Hall of Famer scheduled to speak?
More likely, the Hall of Fame is saving which figures for the final to be the most emotional of all speeches. Long before the canton convened, Vermeil already had his wing in the theoretical Hall of Fame for Weeping Coaches. Throughout his career, he made unexpected speeches in locker rooms and during press conferences, where his tears flowed.
“I’ve always been a passionate guy. It used to embarrass me,” said Vermeil. “When you break down emotionally, it’s because something touches you. The valve that turns it on for me ( For) I really, really, really care deeply.
Vermeel shared a tearful and tearful embrace with Warner when the 2017 Inshini told the coach he would join him as a Hall of Famer.
“I burst out when I think about it. I never really pictured myself sitting on that stage,” Vermeel said.
We can all expect a similar response from Vermeil on Saturday.
“They only give me six minutes to talk to and two to stop,” Vermeel said. “But I can probably fill it with a few tears.”