In three seasons with Arizona, Wadsworth racked up only eight sacks. The past two years he was slowed by knee and toe injuries, missing a total of 12 games, and over one 15-month stretch he has had four knee operations. The most recent, in January, were a microfracture procedure on his right knee and surgery on his left to repair cartilage, and he hasn't run without pain since. His agent, Roosevelt Barnes, says several teams have called, but Wadsworth is focusing on getting into competitive shape within the next three months.
"My main thing is to get healthy, not just sign with another team," says Wadsworth. "When I sign, I want to be someplace where I can stay." So he works out five days a week with a physical therapist in sessions ranging from three to five hours.
If he doesn't come back, Wadsworth will join quarterback Ryan Leaf and running back Curtis Enis, the No. 2 and 5 picks respectively, as the biggest busts of the 1998 draft.
Chiefs Start Anew
Vermeil Likes What He Sees
Carol Vermeil smiled as she watched the silver-haired man in the rumpled T-shirt and khaki pants stroll around the Chiefs' practice fields last week. He shuttled from one drill to another, making sure everything was running according to plan, rarely raising his voice. Carol knew that her husband was at home again.
"Dick did a lot of charity work and speaking over the past year because he was trying to fill his time with meaningful things," Carol says, referring to her husband's one-year hiatus after he led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory in January 2000. "But he isn't good at relaxing."
If there is one certainty about Dick Vermeil, it is that he feels the need to lead. Carl Peterson and Lynn Stiles, who are Kansas City team executives as well as close friends of Vermeil's, reminded him of that last January, when they were selling him on the idea of becoming K.C.'s coach and trying to take the Chiefs, who haven't made the playoffs since 1997, to the Super Bowl.
The 64-year-old Vermeil believes he can do that faster than he did at his previous two NFL stops. He had the Eagles in the playoffs in his third year, 1978, and two years later they reached the Super Bowl. St. Louis won it all in Vermeil's third year with the Rams. Kansas City is the first team he has taken over that didn't have significant questions about the players' work ethic. "You can see these guys want to win," says free-agent defensive tackle D'Marco Farr, a former Ram who was in town last week for a tryout. "In St. Louis, we had to be convinced of that."
"It's already easier for me than the last time I came back to coaching," Vermeil says. "[Former Chiefs coaches] Marty Schottenheimer and Gunther Cunningham laid a good foundation here, and now we're trying to add to that and win. Plus, when I came to the Rams in 1997, I had been away from coaching for 14 years. Now it's only been a year since I've done this."
As in Philadelphia and St. Louis, Vermeil's first order of business was to improve team chemistry. He had TVs installed in the locker room, and 30 players watched Game 3 of the NBA Finals together. He wrapped up the three days of drills with a barbecue. "Team unity is important," says Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez. "When I talk to friends on Super Bowl teams, they always say they love coming to work. That's the sign of a winner."