(Dick Vermeil photos courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs and L.A. Rams)
By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
If nothing else, Dick Vermeil should be considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of this: He’s the only guy to hold three head-coaching jobs in the NFL … and never get fired.
He resigned from the Philadelphia Eagles after the 1982 season, citing burnout. He resigned from the St. Louis Rams following the 1999 season when his Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV. And he resigned from the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2005 season.
Of course, Dick Vermeil qualifies for Hall-of-Fame consideration for doing more … much more … than simply beating the odds or becoming a Trivial Pursuit answer. He led the only three franchises he coached to the playoffs, took two of them to Super Bowls and won Super Bowl XXXIV with an offense that was so good it was called “The Greatest Show on Turf.”
OK, so his overall record is barely above .500 at 120-109. But that’s what happens when you take over bottom feeders or long shots and try to turn them into winners. Only Vermeil DID turn them into winners. In Philadelphia he had the Eagles in the playoffs in his third year, the first of four straight postseason appearances. In St. Louis, he put the woebegone Rams in the Super Bowl his third year. And in Kansas City he had the Chiefs in the playoffs in his third season there.
Good? He was the NFL Coach of the Year. He won more games than Bill Walsh, John Madden, Vince Lombardi or George Allen. I know, I know, his win percentage pales by comparison, but follow me here. He has more playoff wins (6) than Allen, Weeb Ewbank, Paul Brown or Hank Stram. And he has one more league championships than Marv Levy, Allen and Bud Grant.
OK, so does Barry Switzer, but Switzer didn’t resuscitate the dead. Vermeil did.
His greatest achievement was not raising the 1980 Philadelphia Eagles and putting them in the Super Bowl. Nope, it was picking up the 1999 St. Louis Rams – a team that won a combined nine games the previous two years, lost 17 straight to division rival San Francisco and was forced to play an Arena League quarterback with no NFL starts.
So what happened? What happened is he launched them to Super Bowl XXXIV. And then they won there.
I’m not saying Dick Vermeil belongs in the Hall of Fame. But I’m saying he deserves to have his case heard … just as Tom Flores and Don Coryell and Dan Reeves do. At least Coryell has made into the room as a finalist. Three times no less. Moreover, he moved into the Top 10 this year, and there’s a sense that maybe, just maybe, he might one day cross the finish line.
But I’d like to hear what people have to say about Flores, Reeves and Vermeil, too. They haven’t made it as finalists. Heck, they haven’t made it to the top 25, and that’s wrong. Flores won two Super Bowls as a head coach. Vermeil won one. And while Reeves didn’t win any, he took the Broncos and Falcons to four.
I know why these guys deserve to be in the conversation. What I want to hear is why they don’t. And the only way to do that is to get them in front of all 46 Hall of Fame voters once and for all.