Vermeil to retire at end of season

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Oct 14, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dick Vermeil will retire after the season as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, one of his players told The Associated Press on Saturday night.

The player, who asked that his name not be used until after the announcement was official, said he was present when Vermeil broke the news during a team meeting earlier in the day.

The Kansas City Star first reported that Vermeil was leaving, quoting team official Lynn Stiles.

The 69-year-old Vermeil, the NFL's oldest head coach, could end his career on Sunday when the Chiefs (9-6) face Cincinnati in their final regular-season game. But Kansas City could still make the playoffs with a win and Pittsburgh loss to Detroit.

Stiles, who was at meeting, said Vermeil appeared at peace with his decision.

"I know so. ... It's the right thing for him to do, for his family, and it's the right thing to do for the organization," said Stiles, the Chiefs' vice president for football operations.

Vermeil's wife, Carol, told the AP that he was not available for comment.

Vermeil, in his fifth season with the Chiefs, took the 1980 Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl, and won the Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams after the 1999 season. He retired after the Super Bowl win and returned to the NFL in 2001 with the Chiefs.

He's 43-36 with Kansas City and led the Chiefs to the AFC West title in 2003, the only time the team has advanced to the playoffs in his tenure. The former UCLA head coach is 124-114 in 15 seasons in the NFL with Philadelphia (1976-82), St. Louis (1997-99) and Kansas City.

The emotional California native, who maintains a small winery in the Napa Valley, has a unique distinction among of coaches. He has been honored as a coach of the year at the high school, junior college, major college and NFL level.

He took UCLA to the Rose Bowl in 1975 and upset No. 1 Ohio State, allowing Oklahoma to grab the national championship later that night by winning in the Orange Bowl.

He guided the Eagles, his first NFL team, to their first playoff appearance in 12 years and then led the 1980 team to the Super Bowl.

After a 14-year absence, which he spent as a football broadcaster, he returned to coaching and took the Rams to the Super Bowl title in only three years. He abruptly retired a few weeks later and was persuaded by Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson, an old friend from his UCLA and Philadelphia days, to take over in Kansas City.

In recent weeks Vermeil has sounded as though he was headed into retirement.

"At my age, I'm not concerned about job security or worrying about the next job," he said recently. "My concern is doing the job that [owner] Lamar Hunt deserves. Hey, the AFC Championship trophy is named after him. Physically, I feel fine. Hey, we all have some aging problems, prostate problems and what not."

He also kept saying that his retirement from the Rams had been impulsive and that this time he would give his decision long consideration.

"Our kids are all raised and our grandkids are all raised. So [the team] sort of becomes our kids," he said. "When I went to the Rams, I'd been out of it for 14 years. I was swimming. You can imagine not doing what you do for 14 years and all of a sudden start doing it again. Every day was an education."

His retirement will not please most of his players, who had been hoping he would return for at least one more year.