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Vahe Gregorian: Dick Vermeil reflects on role of Carl Peterson, Chiefs in Hall of Fame NFL career

Vahe Gregorian, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Football

“ ‘Right state,’ ” Peterson told him, “ ‘wrong team.’ ”

Not for Vermeil, who nearly a generation and entire culture of the game removed from his start with the Eagles in 1976 resurrected another pitiful franchise: the Rams.

In his third season in St. Louis, 1999, he whisked the franchise to its first playoff appearance in a decade and its first Super Bowl victory. And when the then-64-year-old Vermeil retired for the second time days later, that figured to be that for his NFL career.

But Peterson either was attuned to Vermeil’s sense of regret that he’d left the Rams too early or just remained as determined as he was when he won over Vermeil to begin with.

So even when Vermeil told him not to pursue it, Peterson went calling to his Pennsylvania home. He also brought along Lynn Stiles, then an executive with the Chiefs who had been on that UCLA staff and an assistant with the Eagles during that Super Bowl run.

Lamar Hunt called, too.

 

Vermeil buckled.

“Again,” Vermeil said, smiling, “a great, great decision.”

Behind Vermeil on his shelves as he spoke were four helmets that might as well have been labeled the pillars of his career: those of the Eagles and Rams on one shelf, and UCLA and the Chiefs up above. The man once known as the “Calistoga Comet” also wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of his California hometown, not to mention the site now of his Vermeil Wines’ Calistoga Tasting Room.

As ever, Vermeil reflected fondly on his time in Kansas City, where he went 44-36 and perhaps was best known for the 2003 Chiefs team that went 13-3 only to lose 38-31 to the Colts in the playoff opener.

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