Several Rams officials were interviewing a coaching candidate at Spago this week when owner and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck visited their table with a plea.
He wanted them to make the right hire. He wanted them to find the perfect guy.
He addressed his concerns to owner Stan Kroenke, executive vice president Kevin Demoff and former Rams star running back Marshall Faulk while completely ignoring the fourth member off the party, a barely bearded 30-year-old kid who was clearly either an intern or a nephew.
“Wolfgang kept asking, ‘Mr. Kroenke, have we found a coach?’’’ related Sean McVay. “I wanted to say, ‘Hey man, I’m right here!’’
On Friday afternoon in Thousand Oaks there could be no mistake when the Rams introduced that same kid as the youngest head coach in modern NFL history.
“It will be interesting if Wolfgang sees a TV today,’’ Demoff said.
Did you see a TV? McVay is passionate and intense and inspiring and, oh boy, he’s really, really young.
He’s so young, the news conference was attended by his parents and younger brother, all of whom sat in the second row after catching an early-morning flight from their Atlanta home at his request. They were clearly there for support, as he smiled and nodded at them throughout the proceedings. But one also had to wonder, maybe they were also there to finally take him off the family data plan or ask him to start paying for his own car insurance?
“It’s an incredible moment,’’ said his father Tim. “It came fast.’’
He’s so young, when the interrogation portion of the news conference began, he wasn’t sure whether to stand or sit until a Rams official politely directed him back to the podium, which he clutched tightly while answering questions passionately.
“If you can’t tell, I’m a little wired, a little high strung,’’ McVay said.
He’s so young, it’s refreshing. It makes sense. His boyish aura actually fits in perfectly with a growing Rams team and a new Rams culture.
He talks fast. His sentences have sharp edges. His voice sounds like a quarterback’s cadence. His hand gestures look like he’s signaling plays. Yeah, that’s right, he is built in the mirror image of Jon Gruden, the former Super Bowl champion coach and current popular ESPN analyst, which is no accident because Gruden was the first head coach to hire McVay as an assistant out of Miami of Ohio.
“There was times when I close my eyes, you hear Jon Gruden,’’ Demoff said.
His animated presence is the opposite of the perpetually weary Jeff Fisher. His smart vision as the coordinator of the third-ranked Washington Redskins offense was the opposite of the Rams’ perpetually dreary attack.
“To me, the final check mark of age is not a factor here,’’ Demoff said. “This is really about Sean’s talents, his ability to lead and communicate.’’
McVay might be a kid, but he’s old enough to make Goff listen, and widely respected enough to make the relationship work, and nothing else matters.
“It’s the most difficult position, the most important position,’’ McVay said of the quarterback spot. “I can’t wait … to get to work with him and start developing that relationship that’s going to be a key for us moving forward.’’
They’ve actually already started unofficially working together, as Goff watched a couple of hours of film with McVay as part of the interview process.
McVay said he was impressed: “Sitting down with Jared, you can feel his passion and the drive that he has to come back and respond in year two and be better.’’
Goff was also impressed: “We will have a totally different offense, different scheme, and a lot of different things go into place. It’s a new energy, it’s an exciting time.’’
Oh, and about that age thing…
“I think it’s definitely cool,’’ Goff said. “We are a young team, we are a young offense in particular, and having a guy like that who can relate to us a little better could be beneficial.’’
Sean McVay, the youngest coach in NFL history at age 30, holds a Rams helmet after being introduced as the team’s coach during a news conference at their headquarters in Thousand Oaks on January 13, 2017.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Rams chief executive Kevin Demoff, right, watches new Coach Sean McVay talk about his upcoming opportunity during an introductory news conference.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
New Rams Coach Sean McVay is flanked by chief executive Kevin Demoff, left, and General Manager Les Snead on Jan. 13, 2017.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff talks to reporters after the Rams introduced Sean McVay (not pictured) as the team’s coach at their headquarters in Thousand Oaks.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
He’s young, but he’s not Hollywood. Last summer was the first time he has been to Los Angeles. “The traffic’s an absolute nightmare,’’ he said.
He’s young, but he’s not a beach bum, and when he tries to sound like one, he ends up sounding like a football coach, as he said, “I’d give surfing a stab.’’ A stab?
Sean McVay is all leatherhead, all the time, traditional enough to bring in renowned assistant Wade Phillips to run the defense, but also young enough to be one of football’s only coaches who would recognize two other celebrities who approached his table that night at Spago.
“Only in L.A. we’re actually sitting there and Josh Duhamel and Fergie walk up and wish Mr. Kroenke good luck,’’ McVay said.
Did they recognize McVay?
“Absolutely not,’’ he said with a grin. “It was probably like Wolfgang. Who is this guy?’’
Hey man, he’s the new Rams head coach. All kid-ding aside.