If you’re going to get advice from other coaches, you may as well get it from two of the best ever.
Dick Vermeil is one of seven coaches in history to take two teams to a Super Bowl and he’ll be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this summer.
Jay Wright is one of only 15 coaches in college basketball history to win two national titles and the recently retired Villanova coach is already in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Unless you're hanging out with Vince Lombardi and John Wooden, you can’t do much better than that.Nick Sirianni isn’t in any Hall of Fames just yet and is only one year into his NFL head coaching career, but he sure seems to know how to pick out his friends.
Sirianni said this past week he’s grown close with both Vermeil and Wright and has used both as sounding boards as he navigates his own coaching path.
“I get to go out to dinner with Jay Wright, one of the best basketball coaches of all time, and Dick Vermeil — and that's the first time I've said ‘Jay’ or ‘Dick Vermeil.’ It's 'coach,' right?" Sirianni said.
“And to be able to go out there, and yeah, I'm asking them questions. Obviously I'll keep those conversations private, but what great knowledge they have and how unbelievable (an opportunity).
“I feel so honored that they're willing to share that with me. Coach Wright being an Eagles fan, he's willing to share that with me, and his amount of information that he has, and same thing with coach Vermeil.”
Vermeil hasn’t coached in 17 years, and Wright coached a different sport before stepping down at Villanova in April.
But none of that really matters because there are so many lessons successful coaches can teach that transcend their sport. Lessons in communication, leadership, persistence, dealing with adversity.
And Vermeil is one of the few other people in the world who can write "Eagles head coach" on his resume.
“Everything we learn is from somebody,” Sirianni said. “You don't just step into this role. You learn it by watching somebody. That's how I feel like you get into a role like this is because you've been so observant about the good coaches you've been around in the past and the bad coaches you've been around in the past and what you're going to repeat.
“I've had that from the very beginning with my dad, growing up in a coach's house. I've learned a lot of good things there, to college, to the NFL coaches I've worked with, like Frank Reich. And then … I love reading and really more watching the documentaries on these guys and what makes good teams work and good players work and good coaches work.”
It took Vermeil three years to reach the playoffs as an NFL head coach and 10 seasons (plus a 14-year gap) to win a Super Bowl. Wright didn’t have a winning record until his fourth year at Hofstra and didn’t win a national title until his 22nd season.
But both became legends and Hall of Famers, and Sirianni said he kept in touch with both during his rookie season as a head coach, when the Eagles became only the fifth team in NFL history to reach the playoffs after a 3-6 start.
“I got encouragement and support from those guys through the entire year,” Wright said. “They have my cell phone number, and I’d get a text from them. Win or lose, when it felt like I needed a good text of some support or some advice, I was getting that.
“That's what good coaches do. They know when to give some support, they know when to give some advice, they know when to praise.
“Those guys are really phenomenal coaches, and I'm very thankful I'm able to have their number to ask them a question here or there. I would have loved to have them as a 23-year-old coach, and be like, ‘Hey, I'm going to call Coach Wright.’ But I have them now, so that's awesome.”