Archive for Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Vermeil irritable over talk of future

December 28, 2005

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— That silver Porsche that Carol Vermeil gave her husband on his 67th birthday doesn't always bring him straight to work.

Some mornings, Dick Vermeil drives past his reserved parking place and makes a slow, leisurely lap around the Truman Sports Complex, home of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Royals.

He watches the sunrise. He organizes his thoughts. He catches his breath and prepares to face one more day of the rigors of being the oldest head coach in the NFL.

"I did it this morning," the Chiefs coach said Tuesday. "It was a beautiful, beautiful morning. When you have 61 young men under your supervision, there's always something to worry about."

The Porsche is 2 years old, and Vermeil is 69, an age when most men have put the worries of the workaday world behind them gratefully and eased their aching bones into the rocking chair.

But when will Vermeil? His contract is up at the end of this season, which will come this weekend unless the Chiefs sneak into the playoffs by hitting what amounts to a three-team parlay, beating Cincinnati and having Denver and Detroit win.

When he signed his two-year extension, Vermeil said that would be the end of it, that he would not consider coaching again. But then he began hedging, saying if Kansas City had a good year and appeared to be heading in the right direction, he might consider staying on.

The Chiefs stand 9-6, and if they win Sunday they'll be 10-6, a notable improvement over last year's 7-9, whether they advance to the postseason or not.

But as decision time approaches, Vermeil has become uncharacteristically irritable when the subject is raised. Twice during his Tuesday media session the normally affable coach snapped at reporters.

What about an online column that appeared this week saying it will not be his decision?

He denied it emphatically, using a vulgarism.

"How's that? Can you misunderstand that?"

Asked to clarify if he hadn't made up his mind, Vermeil responded: "Hey, you clarify it any way you want to. I'm not going to talk about it anymore. Please. It's a waste of time."

He also was asked if he would discuss his future with his players before they take the field Sunday against the Bengals, in what could be the last game of a long career that has included two Super Bowl teams.

"I'm not going to say that. I don't know," he said. "Hey, when I left the (St. Louis) Rams after the world championship, you know what I said? 'I'll never win another one of these again. The only place to go is down.' That was stupid thinking. It was an impulsive decision. At least this won't be impulsive."

During his postgame news conference after Sunday's 20-7 victory over San Diego, Vermeil teared up and a few minutes later hugged his boss and old friend, Chiefs President Carl Peterson.

"It's a sincere, fond relationship that I cherish so much," Peterson said Tuesday. "I've known him so long, been with him in some great football games and some difficult ones. It kind of all rushes together."

Peterson also bristled at the suggestion that he would take the decision out of his old friend's hands.

"I think anybody who makes that statement's got to be completely off base, don't you?" he said. "It's our decision. I hired him for three years and re-upped him for two more. Now, when it's done we'll sit down and talk again. That's never changed."

Vermeil acknowledges the thrill of victory has not diminished since his days as a young high school coach in California.

"The feeling you get from watching a team compete against another quality, well-coached team and win, and extracting just a little of the credit for being part of that performance is an exhilarating feeling," he said.

"You can't attain it in any other walk of life, or any other profession. Certainly not me, anyway.

"There'll be a right time (to retire), and it will be clear in my mind exactly what to do."

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