In 1976, Philadelphia Eagles general manager, Jim Murray convinced Dick Vermeil to come to Philly and coach the Eagles. The team had not qualified for the postseason, nor won a playoff game, or clinched their division since 1960.
Dick was the head coach of the UCLA Bruins who had just defeated the top-ranked and undefeated Ohio State in the 1976 Rose Bowl when Jim Murray tracked him down. But not before Murray and Eagles owner Leonard Tose had interviewed a cavalcade of contenders like Norm Van Brocklin, Hank Stram, and Joe Paterno just to name a few. Apparently, the Rose Bowl victory turned out to be the nexus of the soon to be Eagles coach. Vermeil caught Murray’s attention while he was watching the Rose Bowl game on television New Years Day. Murray and Tose flew out to California and were staying in a bungalow at the famous Beverly Hills Hotel where the first meeting with Vermeil took place. So long story short, Murray told Vermeil “you will never see fans like you see in Philadelphia – they will boo you when you are wrong but they will support you always.” Yep, that’s Philly all right.
During the initial interview with Murray, Dick said, ‘Why would I come to Philadelphia?’ Murray said “Coach, I’m going to tell you something. You come to Philadelphia and these three things will happen. Not only will you move to Philadelphia, you’ll bring your family, and you’ll stay here the rest of your life. You’ll never leave, and you’ll become a household name, no matter what else you do in your life.”
From Jim Murray’s Book “Life is an Audible”: With Dick’s opening session at the Eagles: at his first training camp was a scene from a movie. First of all, he was like General Patton preparing to go into battle. He knew every detail of every phase of the organization. He knew instinctively if he had the troops or if he didn’t. He used analytics before analytics were invented. I never met anyone more prepared for anything in my life. He had stacks of detailed notes and statistics on every single player on the team. After the first day of practice, Dick confided to me. “We are not very good. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to build.” Dick was then and is now a very emotional guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. He got his players to listen to him because he himself is a great listener.
Dick said, “Jimmy, whatever went on before, it’s a whole new path and I won’t judge the past or anyone for where we are right now. We’re awful but you and I have to prove ourselves now.”
It took some time and a lot of work, but in 1980 Dick and Jim got the Eagles to Super Bowl XV.
Dick Vermeil is known to everyone as an incredibly kind person and an intense head coach - a very powerful combination that can win games and help people. And true to Jim’s prediction back in ‘76, Dick is a household name and even though he has successfully coached in other NFL cities, he and family live here.
Jim and Dick’s friendship continues to this day. They meet a couple of times a month at Jim’s home in Rosemont to catch up and reminisce. Names circle the room with the like of Leonard Tose, Don Rickles, Jaws, Herman Edwards, Bill Bergey, Vince Papale and others.
If there was ever a story of Philadelphia brotherly love…just ask Jim & Dick.
(Note: Karin Davidson, the editor of Media City Lifestyle, is Jim Murray's daughter and has permission for all quotes. content and photographs)
“Coach, I’m going to tell you something. You come to Philadelphia and these three things will happen. Not only will you move to Philadelphia, you’ll bring your family, and you’ll stay here the rest of your life. You’ll never leave, and you’ll become a household name, no matter what else you do in your life.”