``I'd like to try to get a job in television again and finish out a couple years in broadcasting,'' Vermeil said Tuesday after announcing he is leaving the St. Louis Rams. ``Carol's not real excited about that.''
Vermeil and his wife celebrated their 44th anniversary two days before the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in the Super Bowl, and during the buildup, much was made of Carol Vermeil's statement that her husband has nothing to prove. But Vermeil said he and his wife only had a couple of 20-minute conversations on retirement _ one Monday and the other Tuesday morning.
Vermeil got out because he realized it's impossible to top a Super Bowl victory as an exit.
``I think the time is right,'' Vermeil said in an emotional farewell. ``Very few people in this profession get this opportunity.''
Carol Vermeil, who attended the news conference, did not contradict her husband.
``It was his decision,'' she said. ``There's a time for everything. But the worst thing is overstaying your time, isn't it?''
The decision elevates offensive coordinator Mike Martz to coach. The Rams signed Martz, who directed the NFL's top-rated offense (33 points a game), to a two-year contract in January that assured he would inherit Vermeil's job.
Martz, scheduled to undergo surgery today for a neck problem, didn't attend the news conference. A Rams spokesman said Martz would postpone surgery and hold a news conference.
Vermeil's voice broke often and tears flowed freely at Tuesday's news conference, attended by several players, assistant coaches and personnel director Charley Armey. Team president John Shaw introduced Vermeil, referring to him as ``Champ.''
``I don't have the ability to verbalize how I feel,'' he said. ``I'm so appreciative of what my coaching staff has done. And these players, these guys are unbelievable.''
Vermeil's quick decision had a lot to do with emotion. He didn't want to be involved with the free agency period that starts Feb. 11, so he leaves with two years to go on a five-year, $9 million contract.
``I don't want to participate in that,'' Vermeil said. ``I don't want to cut the squad. These are my guys.''
Owner Georgia Frontiere tried to talk Vermeil out of it, Shaw said he should at least wait to make sure and special teams coach Frank Gansz made an impassioned plea.
Rams players just wanted the best for the coach who made it a point to get to know all of them.
Linebacker Mike Jones, who made the game-saving tackle in the Super Bowl, recalled his first meeting with Vermeil, when the coach came around his desk and locked him in a bear hug.
``He told me I'm his guy and I'm like, `What are you doing?' Everything he did was genuine, and we're going to be Vermeil guys for the rest of our lives.''
Offensive guard Adam Timmerman found out about the retirement when he got off a plane in Honolulu, where he and seven teammates will play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday.
``I guess I thought he would finish it out,'' Timmerman said. ``I'm happy he could leave this way. There's probably no better ending to a coach's career.''
Linebacker London Fletcher said he expected an announcement on the flight back from Atlanta. He said he's never been around a more emotional coach, recalling several private conversations with Vermeil.
``Coach Vermeil will always be special in my heart,'' Fletcher said. ``I love him, and I'm going to miss the little guy.''
San Francisco general manager Bill Walsh agreed with his longtime friend that the time was right.
``At this stage of his life, he's accomplished everything,'' Walsh said. ``Now it's time for him to thoroughly enjoy the rewards of what he's accomplished.''
Vermeil said Martz would retain the staff, and that none of his fellow 60-something coaches would leave.
Vermeil coached two Super Bowl teams 19 years apart. He led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl in 1981, and that 27-10 loss fueled his return to the profession in 1997.
Vermeil led the Rams to a 13-3 regular-season record after winning only nine games his first two years. Following 1998's 4-12 mark, there was talk that he could be fired. Vermeil, however, weathered the problems and led the team to an incredible turnaround.