You won’t find very many stories as inspiring and amazing as the Kurt Warner story. His rise to Super Bowl champion is still to this day almost fictional when you lay it all out. From bagging groceries to winning Super Bowls—it’s the ultimate American Dream in sports. Stories like Warner’s and the St. Louis Rams don’t come around very often. So, naturally, a movie about Warner and the Rams makes a lot of sense, and it ultimately happened. Legendary NFL coach Dick Vermeil opened up about Dennis Quaid’s portrayal of him in ‘American Underdog’.
For folks who may not be familiar, Vermeil was the coach who gave Warner the shot that propelled his St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl victory over the Tennessee Titans in 1999. Vermeil spoke with USA Today about Quaid, who played him, and said, “It’s so different when you see somebody playing you – you don’t quite know how to react. It sort of makes me nervous.” He continued, “But I think Dennis Quaid did a very good job, probably a better job of being me than I do. My wife even said that he did a better job than I do.”
You can easily imagine where Vermeil is coming from. It has to be weird to see somebody else playing you, saying things you said, all of that. You can easily get where he’s coming from. However, he is a fan of what Quaid did. Hilariously enough, he mentioned that his wife thought he did a better job than he did playing himself in real life.
Dick Vermeil, Legendary NFL Coach
Vermeil coached and excelled in this league for a long time. He was a legendary coach both with the St. Louis Rams and with the Philadelphia Eagles. He had two incredible stories with both programs, the Eagles and the Rams. Both ended up getting their own movies, too. The odds of this sort of thing happening were slim, but Vermeil was the right coach for it all to happen.
He told ESPN, “Oh yeah, there were a bunch of those types. (pause) Gosh, I can’t think of a guy off the top of my head, but there are certainly positions on the field that don’t necessarily demand athleticism. I’ve had guys who weren’t that coordinated, but, boy, could they play football. They were either big enough or tough enough to do the job. That’s pretty common.”
Coaching and scouting talent is complicated. Sometimes skills don’t translate or athleticism does not translate.
Dick Vermeil concluded, “I tell you, Kurt’s story is almost as extraordinary. Most teams wouldn’t even give him a chance, wouldn’t even give him a workout — wouldn’t even work him out! It’s sad. I’ve always had great luck with free-agent kids, and I have a compassion for those types.”
The rest was history for Dick Vermeil and Kurt Warner.