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September 05, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: "NFL Films Presents--Dick Vermeil: a Coach for All Seasons" (two-part special)

When: Today, 1 p.m., ESPN, and 5 p.m., ESPN2

NFL Films scores big with a fascinating look at a fascinating man, Dick Vermeil. NFL Films President Steve Sabol sat down with Vermeil at his ranch 40 miles outside Philadelphia and also talked with Vermeil's wife, Carol.

Interspersed in this two-part special are dozens of interviews with people who have known and played for Vermeil. There are lots of footage and photos, beginning with Vermeil's early days in Calistoga, Calif.

Part I first aired Sunday. Part II will be on ESPN on Sunday at 11:30 p.m. and Monday at 1 p.m.

Viewers will see that Vermeil got his work ethic from his father, a mechanic who often worked 18-hour days, and his emotions from his mother. Yes, there are lots of tears in the special, some while Vermeil is talking with Sabol.

John Sciarra led UCLA to an upset of Ohio State in the 1976 Rose Bowl, Vermeil's last game as the Bruin coach. Sciarra says that, the week of the game, he was picked by his teammates to go to Vermeil to say if he didn't ease up on them in practice, they wouldn't play the game. Vermeil told Sciarra to tell the players if they didn't want to play, he'd find students on campus who would.

Vermeil had a similar experience with the St. Louis Rams. Only this time, after two losing seasons and many complaints from the players, he did ease up.

And the Rams won the Super Bowl.

Vermeil says his mother told him while he was in broadcasting that he would someday return to coaching and win the Super Bowl.

He had lost a Super Bowl while with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1981 and retired from coaching two years later. But in the end he was a winner, and so is this NFL Films show.

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