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How Dick Vermeil Became the NFL’s First-Ever Special Teams Coach

Dick Vermeil was recently a guest on our oral history podcast.

George Allen Added Vermeil to Rams Staff

Dick Vermeil became the NFL’s first ever special teams coach in 1969. George Allen hired him in that capacity for the Los Angeles Rams. Vermeil shared how he got on Coach Allen’s radar on an episode of our football history podcast.

Friendship with Stanford Track Coach

“His (Coach Allen’s) good friend was the head track coach at Stanford, Payton Jordan, a world-famous track coach who was also the coach of the United States Olympic team. (Jordan) and I became friends at Stanford. Over that four-year period, George Allen called Payton Jordan and asked Payton if he knew any good young college coaches that would like to be a special teams coach. He recommended me, and I got the job.”

Coach Vermeil’s friendship with Stanford’s legendary track mentor Payton Jordan led to Vermeil making NFL history as the league’s first-ever special teams coach. The Philadelphia Eagles followed suit and soon hired another future legend, Marv Levy, as their special teams coach.

The story of a coach in another sport helping to launch a legendary career also happened with Bart Starr. His friendship with Alabama’s basketball coach helped him get to the Packers.

Embed from Getty Images

In the football oral history book, The Game Before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL and on the podcast of the same name, you often hear stories about how players and coaches cherish the personal relationships built during their careers. Many say that aspect is the best part of football. Both Coach Vermeil and Coach Levy shared stories about their own friendship, which dated back to the early 1960s, when Coach Levy served as head coach at Cal in their respective episodes of The Game Before the Money Podcast.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted Coach Marv Levy as part of its 2001 class. Coach Dick Vermeil was named the Coach Finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2022 class.


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