New York — Dick Vermeil will cost Kansas City two draft choices and $500,000 if the Chiefs hire the former St. Louis Rams coach, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled Wednesday.
If Vermeil signs with Kansas City, the Rams will be awarded the Chiefs' second-round pick in 2001 and Washington's third-round selection in 2002 acquired from the Redskins as compensation for their recent signing of Marty Schottenheimer as coach.
The Chiefs also must reimburse the Rams the $500,000 paid to Vermeil during the past season.
Tagliabue conducted a two-hour hearing at NFL headquarters Tuesday at the Rams' request.
At issue was whether the coach, who took the Rams to a Super Bowl championship last January, was free to join KC, which fired coach Gunther Cunningham after two seasons last week.
Vermeil announced his retirement from St. Louis last February with two years remaining on his contract, turning the head coaching job over to offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Vermeil then entered into a new four-year agreement with the Rams that terminated and superseded the 1997 contract.
Rams president John Shaw said when Vermeil left, the team gave him a $2 million bonus as a reward for the Super Bowl, but did not intend that as a payoff for the remainder of the contract.
In his ruling, Tagliabue found that, although the Rams-Vermeil agreement in February 2000 didn't prohibit Vermeil from seeking a coaching position with another club in 2000 or 2001, "the clear purpose and effect of the agreement ... was that Vermeil would remain retired from coaching through the 2001 season."
The Chiefs have agreed to the terms.
"In any dispute like this, probably neither party is totally happy with the outcome," KC general manager Carl Peterson said. "But as members of the NFL, we respect the authority of the commissioner and we will certainly be bound by his decision. Dick has been a very accomplished coach as his records at UCLA, Philadelphia and St. Louis clearly prove. We're excited at the prospects of reaching an agreement with him and are anxious to begin our plans for next season and beyond."