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Kansas City Chiefs
Dick Vermeil has worked his coaching magic with three different franchises in three different decades. He built the Philadelphia Eagles into a Super Bowl team in 1981. He transformed the St. Louis Rams from the NFL's losingest franchise of the 1990s into world champions. Now he has done it again with the Kansas City Chiefs.
In the 2003 season, Vermeil led the Chiefs to a 13-3 record and a first-place finish in the AFC West Division. He is the Maxwell Football Club's choice for the 15th Greasy Neale Award as pro football coach of the year. He previously won the award in 1999 for his championship season in St. Louis.
"Dick wins wherever he goes, it's not a coincidence," said Chiefs president Carl Peterson, who served as an assistant coach under Vermeil at UCLA and with the Eagles before coaxing him out of retirement to coach the Chiefs in 2001. "He just knows how to do it. He knows how to pick players and he knows how to motivate them."
Vermeil is 67, but he is enjoying himself so much that he already has vowed to stay on for at least two more years as head coach in Kansas City. When he announced his decision to continue coaching, after months of speculation that he would step away, the players were overjoyed.
"Stories about coaches, good and bad, circulate throughout the league," said linebacker Shawn Barber, who left the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent to sign with the Chiefs in 2003. "The word around the NFL is very good about Dick Vermeil. It's an honor to play for him."
"The man will come up, give you a hug and say he loves you at any time," said fullback Tony Richardson. "And he means it."
"He is passionate about not only the player but the person," said defensive end Vonnie Holliday. "He's very special."
Vermeil insists there is nothing magical about his formula for success. It is just hard work, straight talk and caring. It worked with players 30 years ago and it still works with the millionaire players of today.
"What I enjoy most is the leadership role, the relationships with coaches and players, the molding of an environment in which they can all flourish," Vermeil said.
"If you're taking below-average kids and making them average for strength and backup and special teams roles, then you take average guys and make them good players. And then you take good players and try to make them great players. You're adding to the overall value of your football team.
"Sometimes they can become a very special team."
And a reflection of a very special coach.