Love, Tears Flow at 'Knock' Scene

Enshrinement Published on : 2/16/2022
Football is an emotional game. You need great passion to burn the high-octane fuel required for the harsh physical exertion during a game or for the countless hours all year when you coach, mentor and encourage men of strong individual will to succumb to the team concept. 

Dick Vermeil, elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 in the Coach category, operated in that high gear for 15 years with three teams. He added “love” and “tears” to his hard-driving coaching methods – fitting because almost every Hall of Famer demonstrates both when he gives his Enshrinement speech. 

Vermeil inherited losing teams in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City and took each to the playoffs by Year 3. He won Super Bowl XXXIV with the Rams following the 1999 season.

The third knock on a door for a member of the Class of 2022 provided an opportunity for one of the NFL’s greatest underdogs to celebrate with the coach who believed in him and pay back that faith.

Vermeil not only believed in Kurt Warner, who led the Rams over the Titans with a late game-winning TD pass to cap his MVP season, but it also was Vermeil who sent the Hall’s Selection Committee a thick binder filled with lesser-known statistics about Warner when he was a Finalist for the Hall in 2017.

That loyalty to a former player helps demonstrate why Vermeil remains beloved by his enormous and active football family that extends back more than six decades.

Warner’s knock on Vermeil’s door played out like a scene from “American Underdog,” the biopic that premiered in mid-December, telling the story of Warner’s evolution from shelving groceries to Arena League quarterback to an opportunity in the NFL.

🎥 Watch Dick Vermeil's Knock:

The knock was scheduled at 8:30 a.m. at the Vermeil household, about 50 miles outside of Philadelphia. Inside was Dick’s wife, Carol, and their two sons, Rick and Dave, for a routine family breakfast. Despite the best efforts of the production crew, traffic caused a delay until 9:15 a.m. Lo and behold, as the vans were pulling out, Dick was emerging out the door, thinking he heard a delivery truck. 

Warner and the camera team sprinted to capture the moment.

Here’s the screenplay:

Vermeil: “My god.”

Warner: “What’s up, Coach?”

Vermeil: “Hey, what’s up? I know what’s up now. Holy mackerel.”

Kurt: “Coach …”

Vermeil: “Holy mackerel.” 

Scene: Warner has reached his target and is hugging Vermeil.

Vermeil: “Oh, Jiminy Christmas. Holy mackerel.”

Warner: “Nobody has been more instrumental than you getting this Gold Jacket.”
Vermeil: “That goes both ways.”

Warner: “It is my honor, with unbelievable joy, to welcome you to the greatest fraternity in sports – the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022.

Scene: Tears and hugs as the family comes out.

Vermeil becomes the third oldest inductee at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, younger than 2022 classmate Art McNally (96) and 2012 enshrinee Ed Sabol (94).

Expect more love and tears in August.