Vermeil trying to keep Hall on even keel

Updated: October 7, 2003, 6:09 PM ET

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's Dick Vermeil's third year as head coach of a Missouri-based NFL team that's won its first five games.

One of his players has emerged from obscurity to become the most electrifying player in the land.

Dante Hall and the 2003 Kansas City Chiefs?

Yes. Also Kurt Warner and the 1999 St. Louis Rams.

The parallels are striking between St. Louis then and Kansas City now as the Chiefs keep winning and Hall continues making NFL history with his amazing kick returns.

Like the Rams, the Chiefs had an overall losing record in their first two seasons under Vermeil. Then the 1999 Rams started 6-0, something the Chiefs will try to match when they visit Green Bay this week.

Not everything is parallel.

Warner was a former stock boy at a grocery store who put in time as an Arena Football League quarterback before finally getting his big chance and winding up as MVP for both the season and the Super Bowl.

Hall, on the other hand was voted to the Pro Bowl as a kick return specialist last season.

But until now, probably few people outside Kansas City had paid much mind to the one-time wide receiver with NFL Europe's Scottish Claymores who'd come into the league as a fifth-round draft choice in 2000 after playing running back at Texas A&M.

Now he has set the league record with touchdown kick returns in four straight games. Until now, no one had ever had TD returns in more than two straight games.

Hall needs just one more touchdown return to set the NFL record for a single season.

Like Warner, Hall has Vermeil to offer counsel on dealing with the rewards and pitfalls of sudden fame.

"Some guys need it more than others. Some don't need it at all," Vermeil said Tuesday. "There's two or three different ways you can go when you experience success for the first time.

"I think Kurt Warner handled it super in 1999. And I think Dante Hall will handle it real well here."

Vermeil is extremely close to Hall, who says his coach is like a father to him.

Normally friendly and easy-going, Hall acknowledged last week that the demands of the national media were becoming troublesome.

"I'm concerned about Dante trying to be too nice, to service too many people, to try to please everybody because he is a humble kid," Vermeil said.

"He is very appreciative of the things that have taken place since he's been here and the people who have helped him.

"But he also owes himself. He's got to be careful. We've already talked with him about it. He'll do a good job."

Vermeil figures that one advantage Warner and Hall enjoy in learning to deal with their hectic new status is the fact they play in the Midwest and not a major media center.

"We talk about these things all the time," he said. "That's part of my job, to make sure we keep our focus on the right things."

Vermeil's advice to Hall is not unlike his message to the entire team this week: "You can strut too early."

The Chiefs are one of four unbeaten teams left in the NFL. But Vermeil is not worried that a team that was 8-8 a year ago and hasn't made the playoffs in five years will get too full of itself.

"I've been around teams who start taking it for granted," Vermeil said. "We're too young, too inexperienced at winning games in a row to take it for granted."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index