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Sundays seem to be the easiest days of the week for him. Before last year's Super Bowl, in which he completed 15 of 25 passes as L.A. scared the Steelers before losing 31-19, the other Rams looked at their relaxed quarterback and wondered if he knew it was the Big Game.
Off the field, Ferragamo's penchant for the public-relations gaffe could make him the Mark Spitz of the '80s. Many anti-Ferragamo letters to the editor in L.A. are pure venom, and when Ferragamo was introduced before the Jets game, he heard more than a few boos. His public image began to wither when, in the second week of the season, after Haden had broken the index finger on his right hand in a game with Detroit, he played hooky from practice to underscore his contract demands. This was just three days before a game with Tampa Bay. Ferragamo's Beverly Hills attorney, Paul Caruso, said that the reluctant hero would not play without a new contract, one that substantially increased his $52,000 salary, which constitutes peon's wages for an NFL quarterback. That made Ferragamo look traitorous.
A week later, after Caruso negotiated a three-year, $750,000 agreement for his client, Ferragamo abruptly fired Caruso and said he was taking over the contract talks himself. That made him look greedy.
Then on Nov. 2, after Ferragamo had thrown five touchdown passes in a romp over New Orleans, the Rams sent in the now-mended Haden to give Ferragamo a rest. Instead of giving Haden a pat on the back, Ferragamo fumed on the sidelines. "They never put me in during the third quarter," Ferragamo said, referring to his days of clipboard-holding while Haden did the quarterbacking. Earlier, discussing his relationship with Haden, Ferragamo had said, "I had to endure what Pat is enduring now for 2½ years. Now that I'm on top, it's something that Pat has to get used to. There's not much to say about the way things have changed. I remember what it was like being No. 2. I'll never forget how I was treated." That made him look spiteful.
It also squelched the idea that Haden and Ferragamo were good friends who happened to be competing for the same job. At training camp this season Ferragamo got mad when Haden listened in on his practice huddles. He told Haden to quit it. Says Haden with a shrug, "Vince is not knowingly malicious. I don't think he hates me."
Haden earns $200,000 a year from the Rams, and he makes more in endorsements than Ferragamo does in salary. The son of an executive who recruits corporate accounts for a bank, Haden grew up in Los Angeles and went to the local private club, Southern Cal, where he played in three straight Rose Bowls and made a network of friends among the people who run L.A.'s boardrooms. He was a Rhodes scholar, attends law school in the off-season, remembers first names, is polished with the press and lives well, with a Cadillac in the driveway of his home in the well-appointed San Marino area of L.A.
Ferragamo resides in more modest circumstances in Irvine in Orange County. There is a concrete wall in the backyard to give an illusion of privacy. Here he is: Vince Ferragamo, one of the big guys in the NFL, the quarterback who took the Rams to the Super Bowl, and he has this little backyard with two Japanese cars in the garage, no mobile phone, no star-shaped swimming pool.
Ferragamo grew up in Wilmington, Calif., near Long Beach, and no one in his family ever wore a suit and tie to work. His father, Vince Sr., a daily spectator at Rams' practices, started as a painter at a Ford plant and then put in some 25 years as a union officer. His mother, Stella, gave guitar lessons in the dining room. One brother, Chris, is a successful high school football coach—he has won the last four L.A. city championships—who sells hot tub-like spas on the side. He installed one for Vince and his wife, Jodi. Another brother, Mike, is a paramedic with the fire department. His sister, Estelle, is a hairdresser.
The family invested its dreams in the baby, Vince—Dude, they called him. Vince's brothers, both of whom played high school and college football, put the ball in his hands and told him to throw it. Haden remembers going to a high school all-star game at the Coliseum and watching Ferragamo set several passing records. "That guy is going to be something," Haden said to his friends.
A fourth-round draft choice of the Rams in 1977, Ferragamo threw for a touchdown in five of his six appearances in exhibition and regular-season games that year. But his development slowed, and he was saddled with the same "dumb quarterback" rap that dogged Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw in his early seasons. He has called plays not listed in the Rams' playbook. "Vince is a little spacy," Tyler once said. At practice one day, Ferragamo lined up behind center during a scrimmage. "Here, you forgot this," said Peacock, handing Vince his helmet.