Vermeil a Far Cry from Shanahan

Perhaps the most interesting match-up in this weekend's showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs will be that of the teams' head coaches, Mike Shanahan and Dick Vermeil.

Both coaches have been to and won Super Bowls, and both are proven winners. But the two men have far more differences than they do similarities, especially when it comes to handling personnel. Shanahan tends to be objective, fair, and cold, whereas Vermeil is more engaged, loyal, and emotional.

Oh, and Vermeil seems to cry a lot. As in, all the time. It's a little weird.

But if we set this bit of odd behavior aside for a moment and study the résumé of each man, the comparison is intriguing. For instance, Shanahan and Vermeil had the exact same number of wins coming into this season. Mike's record was 116-75, which works out to an impressive .647 winning percentage. Dick Vermeil, on the other hand, had a record of 116-108, which works out to 224 opportunities to bawl like a menopausal woman with messed-up meds.

But all kidding aside, two men couldn't handle wins and losses more differently. If you remember, after winning his second Super Bowl Shanahan gave a speech along the lines of, "Enjoy this win tonight boys, but remember, we have a very important pre-season game against San Diego coming up. Tomorrow morning, we're starting early."

When Vermeil won the big one the very next year, however, he felt compelled to retire, using the excuse that he needed to "spend more time with his family" and to "find more time for uncontrollable sobbing."

(I'm just kidding by the way. About that Shanahan speech.)

What's truly fascinating is that Mike Shanahan has never won in Kansas City in December. Ever. In fact, the Denver Broncos franchise is 1-14 in December games in KC, with its only win coming in the 1994 playoffs. (Hey, a record like that is enough to make any man cry.)

Likewise, Dick Vermeil has never won a game in the city of Denver. Ever. (A record like that is… wait… yep, it's confirmed: Dick Vermeil is crying right now.)

Roaming the sidelines, the two men are like night and day. Shanahan never wears glasses or sunglasses, yet he rarely squints. Vermeil, on the other hand, always wears glasses and always squints. Clearly, Vermeil's optometrist is having some difficulty determining the correct prescription. (In her defense, every time she examines Vermeil he is weeping.)

Also, Shanahan is notorious for not wearing hats even in very cold weather, while Vermeil is notorious for fighting cold weather with his hot flashes. And when asked last week whether the curious greenness of the grass on the Chiefs sideline had anything to do with the endless barrage of saltwater pouring from his eyeballs, Dick Vermeil answered quite sternly, "No comment."

Then he cried.

But really, it may have been Vermeil's bold play calling four weeks ago that best illustrates the difference between these two coaches. Against the Oakland Raiders, Vermeil went for the go-ahead touchdown run as time expired instead of attempting a pass and/or trying the tying field goal. I believe strongly that there's no way Mike Shanahan makes that call, ever. Not even against the Raiders.

But then again, I can't think of any Super Bowl-winning coach that would make that call. It was so gutsy and emotional as to be insane. The only explanation I can think of is that, being the first game after Halloween, he was still upset about that costume fiasco. (In case you missed it, for Halloween Dick Vermeil dressed up as a newborn baby and suffered a near breakdown when the 56th person asked him, "Hey Dick, where's your costume?")

Or perhaps he was upset by the internal Associated Press memo that was leaked earlier this season that showed the AP is now advising their reporters to avoid the redundant terms "teary-eyed Vermeil," "teary-eyed Dick Vermeil," "teary-eyed coach" and "teary-eyed Dick."

Anyway, who do I think will win this week's match-up at Arrowhead? Based on the storied history of these two coaches, it's tough to say.

But here's hoping after the game is over, Vermeil isn't the only Chief crying.

E-mail Broncos Update Columnist Jason Looney at

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