Before Vermeil became the first Rams head coach to lead the franchise to the Vince Lombardi Trophy, there was a time he was in his 30s leading a football team — then took up a broadcast career before giving head coaching one more try after a 14-year sabbatical. McVay is sounding like he’s trekking toward a similar path — with the constant rumblings of him going from coaching to broadcast, but the move being perceived as the 36-year-old facing a coaching burnout and needing a break.
The Hall of Famer shared his perspective with Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, January 11 about McVay’s situation. Vermeil revealed one telling quote he shared to McVay in his last meeting with him…which involved the cost of winning right away.
“I only sat down and visited with coach McVay one time. The only thing I can remember saying to him was, ‘You won too fast too soon,’” Vermeil said. “Every team I took over had been losing, especially the Eagles and Rams. Anything you did — make a first down and they applauded you.
“But when you start out as fast as coach McVay has, it makes every year tougher,” Vermeil continued. “Even after you win it all last year. Geez. What do you do to prove that you still have the ability to do it? It’s tough.”
Vermeil Describes Where McVay’s Talent Level is
Vermeil went 22-26 with the Rams during a time they were in St. Louis. But the “Greatest Show on Turf” run began in his final season of 1999 — the team’s Super Bowl winning year.
Post Vermeil, it took the Rams more than two decades to return to the top of the league with McVay winning the title in his fifth season. But this past season’s Rams endured the first losing season of his coaching career at 5-12. Even with the losing mark of 2022, where does Vermeil place McVay in the echelon of coaches?
“There’s only a few Bill Belichicks or Andy Reids out there,” said Vermeil, citing two of the league’s longest-tenured coaches who have multiple Super Bowl wins between them. “There’s only a few Don Shulas or Bud Grants around. I think coach McVay has proven he’s in that talent level. He’s a potential Hall of Fame coach. But if he doesn’t have that personality make-up, no fault of his own, then that may not happen.”
What Vermeil Believes is ‘Unfair’ Today
Vermeil knows he coached in a much different era of football. He was navigating before the internet was born and before the league became a 24/7 cycle. McVay has more scrutiny along with his fellow coaching peers in the era of social media and the league’s continuous growing popularity.
Vermeil believes that coaches now are being illuminated way more than when he and his peers roamed the sidelines, including McVay.
“It’s almost unfair today to compare the longevity and stamina of [the coaches from 30 to 40 years ago] with what the job is today,” Vermeil said. “Because the evaluation process has gotten so intense, so magnified. It’s like comparing a 1980 Cadillac with a 2023 Cadillac. They all move forward but the technology and everything within it is totally different. I think it’s tougher today on coaches.”