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Orlando Pace and Dick Vermeil Remember The Greatest Show on Turf

The 1999 St. Louis Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans with a dramatic win in Super Bowl 34. Head coach Dick Vermeil and Hall of Fame offensive lineman Orlando Pace spoke about the season on episodes our football history podcast. Pace interviewed at a Tristar Productions event in Houston.

Orlando Pace talks about Coach Vermeil

The 1999 St. Louis Rams offense gained the nickname, “The Greatest Show on Turf.” They also gained a tremendous amount of yardage and lit up scoreboards across the National Football League.

The “heart and soul” of the team was head coach Dick Vermeil. Hall of Fame offensive lineman Orlando Pace noted that during his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech in 2016. He spoke about that aspect more during Episode 61 of The Game Before the Money Podcast.

Photo of Orlando Pace, Hall of Fame football player.
Orlando Pace in Feb. 2022 in Houston at a Tristar Productions autograph signing.

“He was an emotional leader,” Pace said. “The guys really bought into who he was as a leader, as a coach. He would bring every position group to his house to get to know the person, the family, everything. So that part of the game is missing (today) — the coaches that actually care about their players at that level. And he was one.”

Coach Vermeil Tells How the Rams Found Kurt Warner

The Rams 1999 season experienced a turbulent start, but Coach Vermeil guided the team through the adversity.

During the off-season, the Rams signed quarterback Trent Green from Washington. Green suffered a terrible knee injury in the preseason, jeopardizing the Rams’ chances for a winning season. Vermeil turned to the untested Kurt Warner. In a defining moment of leadership, Coach Vermeil famously promised that the Rams would rally around Warner and “play good football” with Warner at the helm. The press conference was both emotional and inspiring.

Warner and the Rams not only played good football, but they also played some of the best offensive football seen in generations. Marshall Faulk, recently acquired in a trade with the Colts, played an important role in the offense. Receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt constantly threatened defenses with their explosiveness. Kurt Warner won the league’s MVP award.

The Rams won Super Bowl 34 over the Tennessee Titans. Warner also won the Super Bowl MVP award after setting a Super Bowl record with 414 yards passing. He also threw the game-winning touchdown to Isaac Bruce.

Vermeil spoke about how Kurt Warner landed on his radar on Episode 49 of The Game Before the Money Podcast. “He was recommended to us by a coach I knew from California,” Coach Vermeil said. He was going over to coach in the NFL Europe and he wanted Kurt because he had seen him in the arena league and liked him.”

Warner earned a workout with the Rams through that recommendation. “So I brought him in and worked him out, liked the workout, and signed him. Charley Armey and John Becker, my two personnel people, were in favor of signing him, so we signed him and then we sent him to Germany and he played 10 games in Germany.”

Vermeil Retired After Rams Super Bowl Win

The road to success was steep for Warner but it was also steep for the Rams. The Rams suffered two straight losing seasons with Vermeil at the helm before 1999. The franchise also suffered several losing seasons before Vermeil arrived. Things changed dramatically in 1999. Warner won the NFL MVP award but most importantly the Rams won Super Bowl 34, their first franchise championship since 1951.

The championship was also Coach Vermeil’s first Super Bowl title. He proved himself as an outstanding coach before that, however. Under George Allen, he became the NFL’s first-ever special teams coach. He later led the UCLA Bruins to a Rose Bowl victory. Additionally, he piloted the Philadelphia Eagles into Super Bowl 15.

After winning Super Bowl 34 with the St. Louis Rams, Vermeil retired. He later returned to the NFL to coach the Kansas City Chiefs. Vermeil had a tremendous coaching career that he first aspired to at a young age.

Pace, like others who played for Vermeil, hold him in high regard. “He was great for us and really brought us together as a unit,” Pace said. “I always say, had he stayed, we probably would have won a couple more Super Bowls.”

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