Dick Vermeil guided the 1999 Rams to the most unlikely title ever

The 1999 St. Louis Rams are the best underdog story in NFL history.

The Rams were coming off a 4-12 season. They lost quarterback Trent Green to a knee injury in the preseason. We didn’t expect them to be good. Instead, they won a Super Bowl.

Kurt Warner became the poster child for this underdog story, and for good reason. Warner’s story has been told countless times: he went from packing races to a regular season and Super Bowl MVP. He ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Let’s not forget the coach of that incredible 1999 Rams team. The coach who took that former grocery bagger, made the team believe as a new quarterback, and oversaw a team that has won the most unlikely Super Bowl title of all time.

The Hall of Fame has not forgotten the career of Dick Vermeil. He finally got the call and will be inducted into the class of 2022. He wouldn’t be here if not for that incredible 1999 season.

Dick Vermeil had an atypical career

Vermeil had a curious career. He became the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976 after two seasons as head coach at UCLA. He led the Bruins to a Rose Bowl victory in one of his two seasons there. After two lost seasons to start his time in Philadelphia, the Eagles have taken off. They had a string of success and found themselves in Super Bowl XV, although they lost to the Oakland Raiders. Vermeil coached two more seasons with Philadelphia, then retired at age 46.

It was burned, he said. Vermeil will not train again before the age of 61.

In between, Vermeil was a popular college football broadcaster for ABC. It seemed like he had settled into his post-coach career when the Rams made Vermeil a surprise rookie in 1997. He also took control of football operations. And for two years, it looked like the game had missed out on Vermeil. He was 9-23 after two seasons. The players didn’t adopt his old-school mentality, especially during the grueling training camp workouts. He was in danger of being fired.

Vermeil looked like a coach who had taken 14 seasons off. Then 1999 arrived.

Dick Vermeil coached three NFL teams, including a memorable season with the Rams. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Vermeil wins his Super Bowl

There was magic for the 1999 Rams. Vermeil memorably said through tears after Green’s injury: “We’ll rally around Kurt Warner and play good football.” His new offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, helped. So did new running back Marshall Faulk, who was acquired in a trade brokered by Vermeil.

The Rams went 13-3 and beat the Tennessee Titans in the Super Bowl. Vermeil’s return, nearly two decades after coming just before a championship with the Eagles, was worth it.

Warner got the spotlight. Martz got a lot of credit for his innovative offense. But Vermeil pushed all the right buttons for one of the greatest championship stories in sports history.

“He deserves 100 percent credit for the turnaround,” Rams vice president for player personnel Charley Armey told the Baltimore Sun during the 1999 season. with the players, with the training sessions. He did everything right.”

Vermeil retired again after the 1999 season. He would return for five more seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and while it wasn’t so bad – the Vermeil Chiefs went 44-36 – it didn’t. resulted in no playoff victory. Vermeil retired for good after that.

Unlike the first time he retired from the Eagles, Vermeil left the NFL with a Super Bowl ring from one of the biggest single-season runs in sports.

“Winning a Super Bowl doesn’t change the person,” Vermeil told the Delaware County Daily Times in 2014. “But it changes the way everyone looks at it. It’s amazing. All of a sudden you become a Super Bowl winning coach and that’s how you’re presented. But you’re the same person.”

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