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Those weren’t just rumors that surfaced before the Super Bowl about Sean McVay seriously considering leaving coaching because of burnout.
The Los Angeles Rams coach is a hard-driving, energetic bundle of passion and fire and vigor, and he brings all of those to bear on each football season in trying to make his team the best in the business. And while that’s probably the case with many football coaches, McVay is quite possibly the extreme example of it.
So the resulting fallout of that approach is that after each season, he’s simply spent.
That’s where the thought of him wanting — indeed, needing — to break away from the game comes from. Doesn’t matter that he’s only in his mid-30s and in seemingly good physical condition.
None of that matters when the ache is to re-gather oneself and fight off the burnout syndrome.
So McVay stepping away to become a broadcaster was a serious consideration the last couple of years and even leading up to Super Bowl LVI, according to two people familiar with his thinking.
And yet there he was Tuesday morning, at his post as the Rams head coach, behind a podium during a 30-minute press conference, talking about how he’s recovered from another NFL season.
“It’s a helluva lot easier after you win the Super Bowl,” McVay said smiling. “It’s a lot more fun that way.”
Yeah, no doubt.
The Rams and McVay delivered the Lombardi Trophy to Los Angeles in February and, of course, winning that thing made stepping away from coaching to become a broadcaster not quite so appealing.
So McVay took a step back and recouped.
“It’s like anything else. You get away, you enjoy time with your loved ones and try to be able to find those days where you can just get a break,” he said. “It’s being able to find that balance and it’s hard to do during the season because you’re so committed to trying to achieve certain goals. But the NFL schedule is set up in a way where I think you can catch your breath and enjoy the offseason and a couple of things like this are not so bad.”
He was talking about the surroundings of The Breakers Hotel, which is drenched in warm sunshine and just yards from inviting ocean waves. It’s idyllic.
But that isn’t totally it. What has actually fed McVay’s desire to return is his commitment to quarterback Matthew Stafford, whom the Rams brought in via trade last season. It’s a commitment to Aaron Donald and the other Rams players he feels close to.
That’s what people who know McVay say has brought him back for 2022.
But whatever it is, McVay says he feels renewed now.
“I do. I think the biggest thing is being around people, be it our coaches or our players, they would tell you this, and this isn’t just because we were able to finish it the right way. It’s just probably as rejuvenated as I’ve felt,” McVay said.
“I had more fun this past year than I’ve had in a long time. There was a sense of purpose with this team. When you’re doing it with people you love and care about — and I was talking to a handful of people about this yesterday — I think when you see how much our team loved one another and when you’re doing it with people like that, there’s real purpose that’s established.
“That allows you to be able to sustain a certain level of energy that was really beneficial for me this year and hopefully for many years to come.”
That last part about many years to come is yet to be decided. And it’s unpredictable.
Maybe the Rams can continue to keep their core group of players together and they continue to author seasons that make McVay want to keep coming back. That’s the perfect scenario.
But there’s also that other possibility that something goes sideways. And the crisis that is practically every NFL season takes a toll higher than what McVay is willing to keep paying