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06-2022

Super Bowl coach Sean McVay’s retirement talk fits his career pattern

It’s not easy to be 36 years old and the “veteran” coach in the Super Bowl. Or 36 years old and facing off against a former assistant.

Or 36 years old with retirement rumors — most of it your own making — floating around.

Sean McVay has always done everything on his accelerated schedule, though, so why should this be any different?

He was just 30 when the Los Angeles Rams hired him. Five later he owns 55 regular season victories, six more in the playoffs and will coach seasons in his second Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Part of his week this time was talking about leaning on his experience in the big game, the urgency that comes from leading a veteran team and the challenge of competing against a member of his coaching tree, 38-year-old Bengals coach Zac Taylor, a former Rams assistant.

And then there was … retirement talk?

Most 36-year-olds would be ecstatic to have their college loans paid off. It’s the, don’t-check your-401K-every-month (or you should really start one) stage of life. McVay is in a different place.

“I love this so much that it’s such a passion,” McVay said Friday. “But I also know from what I’ve seen from some of my closest friends, whether it’s coaches or even some of our players. I’m going to be married this summer. I want to have a family. And I think [about] being able to find that balance, to give the time necessary.

“I have always had a dream about being able to be a father and I can’t predict the future, you know?” he continued. “… I know I love football and I’m so invested … but at some point, too, if you said, ‘What do you want to be able to do?’ I want to be able to have a family and I want to be able to spend time with them.”

McVay is known for inventive, cutting edge play-calling and strategy. There’s a new school coaching vein in him too, where he wins the devotion of his players by connecting with them, being honest, being forthright.

Maybe that’s what this was.

Put it this way: If Bill Belichick, who turns 70 in April, was in the Super Bowl and someone dared broach the subject of work/life balance or retirement, he would have grunted away that answer in about three seconds. There would be no window into his current emotive state, even if he is actually at an age when many retire.

McVay is a smart guy and he knows how the media works. That he had no issue throwing his career status out there just days before the Super Bowl is not an accident. This wasn’t some brief off-the-cuff comment. The above quote is part of a 90-second plus soliloquy.

Sean McVay has done everythinig on an accelerated schedule.  So why should stepping away from coaching be any different?  (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Sean McVay has done everythinig on an accelerated schedule. So why should stepping away from coaching be any different? (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

All of it comes on the heels of multiple media reports about him becoming a full-time broadcaster, perhaps pairing with Al Michaels on Amazon’s venture next year.

He wouldn’t be the first coach who won a Super Bowl and then turned to broadcasting when the chance to coach was still available. John Madden was 43 when he made the career transition and never looked back.

And Madden wasn’t immediately paid millions, like McVay might be. The TV money is incredible — Tony Romo makes a reported $17.5 million to call weekly games for CBS. McVay is believed to make $8.5 million to work 25 hours a day for the Rams.

Is this a ploy to get a raise? Win the Super Bowl and he’ll get one anyway? Money has to be the least of McVay’s concerns.

Besides, McVay went deep, talking about the relationship between his father, Tim, and his grandfather, John, who had a four-decade career as an NFL coach and executive.

,[My father] has such a special relationship with my grandpa,” McVay said “… But one of the things that prevented [my father] from getting into coaching was, ‘Man, I had such a great relationship, but my dad missed out on a lot of these things.’ [He] didn’t want to do that with me and my little brother.

“So I always remembered that,” McVay said. “And at some point, I want to be able to have a family.”

He was supposed to get married in 2020, but the pandemic got in the way of the ceremony. It’s been rescheduled for this offseason and from there the family is, apparently, expected to grow quickly.

Make no mistake, McVay is 100 percent dialed into this game. The loss in Super Bowl LIII to Belichick’s New England Patriots still stings.

He’s been relentless in his effort to get back, including enthusiastically supporting the Rams’ all-in approach this year. They’ve traded away a slew of draft picks to bring in veteran stars such as Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller.

This is the Rams’ Super Bowl to lose. McVay knows that. They are the favorite. They are at home. It’s Cincinnati that is playing the role LA did three years ago: house money in hand, a four-win team last season that came together in a hurry behind a young quarterback.

McVay knows just getting here is nearly impossible. Windows close fast in the NFL, perhaps even coaching careers. At least the league’s oldest wunderkind, who has a game to win on Sunday, won’t promise anything after that.

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