HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — There are few people who know the pressure of Super Bowl LVII better than Hall of Fame Head Coach Dick Vermeil.
The Coatesville resident knows what it’s like to win a Super Bowl, and serve as the head coach of both the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.
Vermeil sat down with our Allie Berube to talk about the unique opportunity to watch two of his former teams play each other in the Super Bowl.
Interview with Hall of Fame coach Dick Vermeil
ALLIE: Two of your former teams will face each other in Super Bowl 57. The Eagles gave you your first head coaching gig, the Chiefs, your last. What are the emotions like this week?
DICK: Well, you know, I’ve thought about it a lot. I care for both organizations. Of course, the Eagles organization I coached for seven years and I live in that community [in Coatesville]. I know a lot of the people better than I do any other place. But Kansas City was a great relationship position to hold, and I cherish it. So I’ve sort of worked out a philosophy that I’m going to work hard and root hard for both of them to win and then feel sorry for the team that loses. Does that make sense?
ALLIE: Your career was known for taking struggling franchises and returning them to playoff contention. You even took those Eagles to the Super Bowl. Did those years hold significance for you in Philadelphia?
DICK: Well, you know, I always I always think of it. [The Eagles] took me to the Super Bowl. I was just part of the ride. The Eagles were our biggest challenge because they hadn’t won in many years and they didn’t have first, second or third round picks for a few years there. So we had to do it the old fashioned way, long practices and hard work and character kids. There were about 11 or 12 guys that ended up being on the roster five years later that were on it when we took it over, that went to the Super Bowl. We didn’t play well and game day, we got beat. That really bothered me initially, but the further removed from the game, the more I recognized and appreciate those guys. [I am] very, very grateful for having had the opportunity to work with those guys for seven years. It takes the same thing to get there and lose a Super Bowl that it does to get there and win. Yeah, we lost. We went to the Super Bowl in 1999 [with St. Louis and won]. But there we had draft choices, free agency and all that kind of stuff that we didn’t have in Philadelphia. We used the same basic approach for the first two years. Then the third year, we backed off just a little because I felt and my staff felt that we were where we needed to be. Of course, we didn’t count on losing Trent Green with a knee injury, and we didn’t count on Kurt Warner being a great Hall of Fame player. Fortunately for all of us, he was. And he led us on to the world championship.
ALLIE: In between the Eagles and Chiefs, you won that Super Bowl with the St Louis Rams. How big of a game is that? How difficult is it to rise to that occasion in the biggest game of the season?
DICK: It’s not. It’s the easiest game in the world to get ready to play emotionally, you know, because they play all season to be there and have the opportunity to play it. It’s the most devastating loss if you don’t win it than any game we play all year. But the further you are away from the loss, I repeat myself, you recognize what you did and appreciate what you did to get there. You know it’s the American way. When you win it, you’re a hero. You lose it, you’re not a hero. And the Super Bowl magnifies the meaning of those two different environments more than any other game you play.
It takes a while to get over the loss. You know, it really does. The more mature you are, like the Bill Belichick’s of the world, he’s been there a few times, you know, and he’s lost a few games, but he obviously knew how to recover and get back there again.
It’s probably now the number one sporting event in the world on a year round basis.
ALLIE: You can’t appreciate the highs without those lows. When you look back on that time, how much do you think that taught you as a man losing a Super Bowl, coming back and winning one a couple of decades later?
DICK: Well, I think going through adversity and handling it properly is one of the greatest tools you can use to get better and gain a deeper self-confidence, a deeper understanding of yourself and your team and a deeper mutual level of respect for each other. I think adversity can become an ally, and I think it did with us, you know, in Kansas City. We developed a great team in 2003 and got beat in the playoff game after a nice bye on a sunny day in Kansas City, which is normally snowing and raining.
We didn’t get it done. But by that time, you learn to appreciate what you did to get there. You’re not satisfied the fact you didn’t win it, but you really respect almost as much, the fact that you got there and played so well all year.
ALLIE: Another guy who knows those highs and lows, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. Your relationship has been so special over the years. He moved training camp to attend your induction this summer, and he calls you a great mentor. What does he mean to you?
DICK: I have great admiration and respect for Andy, but he has the emotional stamina and stability that I never had. I mean, I was to high or too low and had a hard time being straight in the middle of my life.
It’s an advantage for him because he has so many years of experience now to build on what he’s learned. [He knows] what works and eliminates what he thought wasn’t good or didn’t work, and builds a package offensively that that he could put on the field on a weekly basis. [He’s] changing [things] up and emphasizing different things within the game that better attack the opponent.
So, you know, [Andy’s] a remarkable guy and a humble, a compassionate guy who really cares about his players. And yet he draws the line knowing that he has to do what he has to do to win. Sometimes it’s cutting guys he doesn’t want to cut, but that’s what you do.
He has got his personnel department extremely well defined. I don’t think there’s anybody doing a better job of drafting players. These kind of things don’t happen by accident.
ALLIE: The repeat success over the past few years has been incredible. When you think about the talent in this Super Bowl on both sides of the ball, what does this game come down to?
DICK: Hopefully, the team that takes it away wins it. Someone that doesn’t give up the ball, you know, it takes it away. Someone that doesn’t get the bad call. The other guy gets the good call. You get the good guy, you don’t get the bad goal or or the play where a person breaks his discipline because of the intensity of the game, it creates a fumble and gives him a first down. When you had him stop or call or you create a error or a mistake and a foul in some way that calls back a big play that would have won the ball game for you. So I think that’s how it’s going to end up being. The Eagles are going to be tough to beat. They have no weakness. And I’ve said that all year and I study them statistically.
I don’t believe I’ve ever evaluated the team offensively and defensively that is as equally a quality team in those areas of evaluation. In all areas, I couldn’t find a weakness. So it’ll be an interesting game. It’ll be interesting. And you know something? Some gifted player might make the difference in the whole game. Maybe it’s [Travis] Kelce, maybe it’s Jalen Hurts. Maybe it’s one of the great wide receivers for the Eagles.
ALLIE: Coach, you know you’re retired you don’t have to do film study anymore.
DICK: No. You know, as you get older, you got to do things to keep your mind active. And I work at it. First off, I enjoy it. Secondly, I believe that’s what you have to do to [stay young]. Like the old song by Toby Keith, I just don’t let the old man in. I like trying to stay up with the game. And I have some opinions, and I don’t express them very often because they don’t mean anything, but they do to me. But if you don’t study things, you can’t form a solid, realistic opinion.
ALLIE: Have you talked to either organization this week? I know you know how much pressure is on them, so maybe you’ve left them alone. But are you calling anyone this week, giving them any advice?
DICK: Andy is a texter. I texted Andy all short messages, and he’s the guy that sort of taught me how to abbreviate texting. I don’t know Nick Sirianni well. I’ve met him a couple of times. I had dinner with him one night that the General Manager [Howie Roseman] organized that. I don’t know him that well, but I’m very, very impressed.
ALLIE: You live in Pennsylvania. You’re clearly a fan of both organizations. You said you’re a winner either way. Do you think you know which way this one’s going?
DICK: You know, I really don’t. I think I already expressed what I really believe. I kind of believe it’s going to come down to a player or a play created by a great player or an official or bad play or a penalty that changes the outcome of the ballgame or dictates the outcome of the ballgame. Maybe it comes down to a missed field goal that wins it or a field goal that’s made that wins it. I believe it’ll be that close. I can’t see either team just pulling away from each other though.
If you study the Eagles defensive stats, for the most part, going through 17 games this year, their defensive stats are better. But what the stats don’t tell you is how much better the Chiefs are today over the last five weeks than they were the first ten weeks in the season. They just tell you what happened throughout the season and all they are is indicators of what’s happened and maybe not an indicator of what’s going to happen.
You root for both, as I said, and I feel bad for the one that loses.
ALLIE: In your Super Bowl, it was a close score against the Titans. Was there one play that that one that won for you all?
DICK: Well there are actually two play in that game. The play Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce for the touchdown and then Mike Jones tackle on the last play of the game on the one yard line. If he scores, it goes into goes the tie. I understand that [Titans coach] Jeff Fisher said he was going to go for two and we may not have gotten into overtime. So anyway, they can’t take it away. You can’t go back.
Super Bowl LVII between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs is on Sunday, February 12; kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. in Glendale Arizona.