The biggest laugh of Super Bowl Sunday came when the fans in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium settled into their seats and turned to page 48 of their Super Bowl program.
On it was a story by Dick Vermeil, the winning coach in Super Bowl XXXIV, who retired the day after his St. Louis Rams outlasted the Tennessee Titans. The story was titled, "I Don't Miss the Headaches."
In the second-last paragraph, Vermeil wrote, "I have no plans to get back into coaching." To do that would defeat my purpose for leaving: To come home and be with my family."
It was the tyranny of publication deadlines. Vermeil had already been the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs for a week before the program went on sale. It was also something else: the mystery of the big-time coaching mind. In Vermeil's case it is the 64-year-old coaching mind. This is his second "unretirement" in four years.
Little more than a week before Vermeil unretired, Marty Schottenheimer came out of hibernation. Schottzy was looking for the right place to coach his third NFL team. He made a lengthy inquiry about the Bills, who were about to unload Wade Phillips. One place he said he wouldn't coach was Washington, under the NFL's most obnoxious owner, Daniel Snyder.
Days later Schottenheimer was coach of the Redskins. He suddenly saw previously concealed virtues in his new boss after Snyder waved a $10 million contract at him.
It's seldom the money, although that enters into it in a big way. The day after Al Groh resigned as coach of the Jets to jump to the University of Virginia, his alma mater, the team received two inquiries about the coaching vacancy.
One came from Jerry Glanville, who is becoming a professional applicant. The other came from 75-year-old Marv Levy, the Bills' Super Bowl coach who would be elected to the Hall of Fame three weeks later.
As Glanville once said, "There's nothing like the rush of those three hours along the sidelines on a Sunday afternoon."
Chuck Knox, the ex-Bills' coach who retired and never even made a pass at coming back, said of his brethren who gave into the temptation, "it's like an aphrodisiac."
The reason Bill Parcells didn't make it into the Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible was that the electors weren't convinced, on the basis of his past record, that the Tuna would not be coaching somewhere else in the next month, or for that matter the next hour.
The Hall of Fame board of directors has taken under consideration a suggestion that a three-year awaiting period be applied to NFL coaches after they officially retire. Right now there are no eligibility rules for coaches. Players must wait five years after retiring.
If the three-year waiting period is adopted by next year, Parcells likely would be grandfathered in as an immediate candidate if he gets enough votes. That would be on the basis of his making the final list of 15 candidates in 2001.
The view from this corner is if Parcells doesn't coach before the next election, Jan. 26, 2002 in New Orleans, he'll easily win entrance to the Hall.
Bruce behind Vick's move
When Michael Vick, the promising Virginia Tech quarterback who may be the first pick in the April draft, dropped Jim Kelly and his brother Dan as his managers after signing with them just a week earlier, he explained that one of his reasons was his consultation with Bruce Smith, a fellow Hokie product.
You can call this episode, "The Bickering Bills Live On" or "Bruce's Revenge."
Vikes' Smith may be serious
The Minnesota Vikings should take Robert Smith's talk of retiring seriously. This isn't a convoluted Barry Sanders deal. Smith is a very intelligent man who considered passing up a pro career in favor of medical school when he finished at Ohio State.
AFL presence in Canton
When Nick Buoniconti was named to the Hall of Fame last week, he became the 10th member of the all-time AFL team make it. The others are Lance Alworth, Don Maynard, Joe Namath, Ron Mix, Willie Brown, Bobby Bell, George Blanda, Jim Otto and Billy Shaw.