Rams’ McVay reaches career pinnacle and wonders what’s next

Feb 11, 2022, 10:46 PM | Updated: Feb 12, 2022, 12:48 pm
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay speaks during a media availability for an NFL Super Bowl foo...

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay speaks during a media availability for an NFL Super Bowl football game Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The Rams are scheduled to play the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Five years and one month after Sean McVay became the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, he is somehow still the youngest coach in the league.

At a time when many of his chronological coaching peers are still getting started, the 36-year-old Los Angeles Rams boss is getting his second shot to become the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl.

Perhaps it’s no wonder this inveterate overachiever has been suggesting for several years that he might leave coaching early as well.

McVay answered questions about the subject again this week while the Rams wrapped up their final preparations to face the Cincinnati Bengals. While McVay has never said he’s planning an imminent exit from his profession, his openness in talking about life after the sideline generates headlines whenever he is asked about it — and it happened again 48 hours before the Super Bowl.

“I know I love football and I’m so invested in this thing, and I’m in the moment right now,” McVay said Friday. “But at some point, too, if you said, ‘What do you want to be able to do?’ I want to be able have a family, and I want to be able to spend time with them, and I also know how much time is taken away during these months of the year.”

Whenever McVay is asked whether he sees himself following the example of Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick by coaching into his 60s or 70s, McVay rejects the idea. He did it again Friday, saying he “won’t make it” that long.

But McVay’s first half-decade on the Rams’ sideline has been wildly successful. He has 55 regular-season victories, a franchise-record six postseason wins, four playoff berths, three NFC West titles and two Super Bowl berths.

He’s on a path that gives him time to become the winningest coach in NFL history — but only if he wants to stick it out. McVay has openly acknowledged the burnout that hits him during a season, and he is still trying to learn how to regulate his investment.

“I don’t think calm is ever a word that anybody would use to describe me,” he said.

McVay throws everything into his job, yet he’s self-aware enough to realize it exacts a toll. His friends and players see it, too: They love to tease their head coach about his intensity, with Cooper Kupp revealing that the Rams often talk about the “anger sharks” in McVay’s head — a reference to a joke in the 2003 film “Anger Management.”

“I think at times he walks the line between unhealthy competition and healthy competition,” Kupp said. “He wants to win at all cost. He’s aware of it. He knows he’s a psycho. But it is what it is. I wouldn’t want anyone else leading this team.”

Perhaps McVay simply exemplifies the evolving awareness of mental health among his fellow millennials by giving voice to doubts and concerns that a stereotypical Boomer coach would deny or a Generation X coach might ignore.

But given McVay’s self-described obsessive nature of research and planning, it’s no surprise he’s already thinking about what he might want several years in the future before he even has kids or a wife. McVay and his longtime fiancée, Veronika Khomyn, will finally get married this year after a two-year delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I want to have a family, and I think (it’s important) being able to find that balance, but also be able to give the time necessary,” McVay said. “I have always had a dream about being able to be a father, and I can’t predict the future, you know?”

McVay is the grandson of John McVay, the former Giants head coach and 49ers executive. Sean’s father, Tim, didn’t go into football partly because he wanted to have time with his family that John McVay never had. That example looms large in Sean’s mind, because he believes his father could have been “an unbelievable coach” and leader.

“One of the things that prevented him from getting into coaching was, ‘Man, I had such a great relationship, but my dad missed out on a lot of the things,'” Sean McVay said. “And he didn’t want to do that with me and my little brother. I always remembered that.”

McVay’s first NFL boss was the ever-intense Jon Gruden, and McVay’s speculation about his long-term future suggests he might follow other paths traveled by Gruden.

Gruden became the Raiders’ head coach at 34 and won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay at 39 — the youngest at the time to do it, although he was later passed by Mike Tomlin.

After Gruden was fired by the Buccaneers at 45, he spent nine years in the broadcast booth before his ill-fated second stint with the Raiders.

With his polished public persona and teaching acumen, McVay could easily handle the decidedly less stressful responsibilities of a broadcast career. Whether he would miss the rush of competition is a different question, and even McVay doesn’t know the answer.

McVay’s mixed feelings on his long-term future are still clear, and he seems to be years away from making any decision about the next chapter in his life. A few moments after speculating openly about life after coaching, McVay acknowledged he still can’t imagine it.

“You’ll probably be talking to me when I’m 61 doing this stuff,” he said.

___

More AP Super Bowl coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/super-bowl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

After Supreme Court backs praying coach, no sweeping changes

Across the ideological spectrum, there were predictions of dramatic consequences when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a public high school football coach’s right to pray on the field after games. Yet three months after the decision — and well into the football season — there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Qatar confirms COVID-19 test requirements for World Cup fans

GENEVA (AP) — Fans going to the World Cup in Qatar must show a negative COVID-19 test when they arrive as part of the host nation’s rules to combat COVID-19, organizers said Thursday. All visitors aged 18 and over must also download a government-run phone application tracking people’s movements and health status, called Ehteraz. “A […]
1 day ago
Puerto Rico players leave the court following their loss to Canada in their quarterfinal game at th...
Associated Press

Canada into women’s World Cup semis for 1st time since 1986

SYDNEY (AP) — No one on Canada’s roster was born the last time the team won a medal at the women’s World Cup. Now the Canadians are a win away from securing one for the first time since 1986, when they captured the bronze. Kia Nurse scored 17 points to lead a balanced Canada team […]
1 day ago
North Carolina State's Devin Leary (13) prepares to throw the ball during the first half of an NCAA...
Associated Press

Week 5 preview: No. 10 NC State and No. 5 Clemson take stage

What’s being called the biggest game in North Carolina State history and Florida State’s first game in four years as an AP Top 25 member have put the Atlantic Coast Conference in the national spotlight Saturday. Whether the games are played as scheduled depends on the path Hurricane Ian takes. No. 10 NC State is […]
1 day ago
FILE - Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala handles the ball during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Warriors-Wizards games in Japan to woo NBA fans, sponsors

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese basketball fans will get to see NBA stars up close when the reigning league-champion Golden State Warriors take on the Washington Wizards in two preseason games. Not surprisingly, Stephen Curry and Japanese-born Rui Hachimura will be the star attractions for each team. And as clearly as the logo of Japanese online […]
1 day ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge celebrates his 61st home run of the season, a two-run shot against th...
Associated Press

Maris Jr: Bonds, McGwire illegitimate, Judge to be HR king

TORONTO (AP) — Roger Maris Jr. considers the home run feats of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to be illegitimate and says Aaron Judge should be recognized as the holder of the big league season standard if the New York Yankees slugger hits No. 62. “He should be revered for being the actual […]
1 day ago
Rams’ McVay reaches career pinnacle and wonders what’s next