Sean McVay might be the head coach of the Rams in 2023. He also may not be. Based on his contract, he’ll be in Los Angeles for another four years. However, after a trying and frustrating 5-12 season that was filled with injuries and adversity, McVay is considering retirement – though perhaps not a permanent one.
During his end-of-season press conference Monday, McVay fielded questions about his future for more than 10 minutes, shedding light on why he’s even thinking about walking away from the game he loves so much. It’s not because he wants to make more money on TV. This is a decision that goes back years, he says.
And now after his first poor season as a head coach, McVay is thinking about what’s best for himself and his family. He offered plenty of insight into this tough situation and decision, while still using that familiar coachspeak we’ve grown accustomed to.
Here’s what we learned from McVay on Monday.
He doesn’t know exactly when he’ll make a final decision
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McVay said he’ll “take the next couple days” to think things over, talk to his family and reflect on the season that he just endured, but he doesn’t want to “put a timeline” on exactly when he’ll make a final call. It probably won’t be too long because he knows if he leaves, the Rams will need to hire a replacement, and taking weeks or a month could put Los Angeles in a tough spot.
“I’m gonna take the next couple days to really be able to kind of reflect,” McVay said. “Obviously, a lot of conversations with various people that will dictate and determine the decision that’s best for me, my family, the Rams and a lot of people, so that’s kind of where we’re at with that.”
This has been weighing on him for years
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Perhaps the most shocking revelation McVay shared was that this feeling isn’t new for him. This isn’t the first time he’s considered walking away, and it goes back “years.” That seems far-fetched for a coach who’s only been at the helm for six seasons, but perhaps the Rams’ loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl was the start of this.
“It’s not that I’m not OK. It’s more about how can you be at your best?” he said. “This has been years. This isn’t a new thing. This has been something that has gone on for a handful of years. But it’s a beautiful challenge. I wouldn’t change any part of this. And a lot of the reflection is based on the culmination of years.”
He doesn’t think he’s close to being done as a coach
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At 36 years old, McVay is the youngest head coach in the NFL. He’s so young that he could take 10 years off from coaching, come back and still likely be one of the 10 youngest in football. So even if he does step away this year, that doesn’t mean he’s done coaching.
“I don’t get the sense in the least bit that I’m done coaching. It’s just a matter of, what does that look like as it relates to the immediate future? (That’s) more about what you’re really working through right now,” he said.
This rough season “needed to occur”
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No one saw this 5-12 season coming for the Rams. Well, a few doubters may have, but the overwhelming belief was that the Rams would be closer to repeating as champions than they would be to the No. 1 overall pick – hypothetically, of course. And as challenging, frustrating and difficult as it was for McVay to go through, he feels it helped him grow as a person and deal with this fork in the road that he’s facing now.
“I wouldn’t change this for the world,” he said. “This needed to occur. This was a necessary part of the growth and development for me to be the person I need to be instead of worrying about some things that maybe you worried about before that you wouldn’t have realized had you not gone through this experience and being around the players and the coaches and the way they handled that.”
Cryptic, yes. But also deep and profound.
He has “unconditional support” from Rams brass
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It won’t be easy for the Rams to watch McVay leave less than a year after he signed an extension through 2026, if that’s what he decides to do. But McVay feels supported by everyone in the building, whether it’s Stan Kroenke, Les Snead, Tony Pastoors or Kevin Demoff. They’re all standing by him, no matter what he chooses to do.
“What you really appreciate is, whether it be Mr. Kroenke or Les or Tony or Kevin, there’s an unconditional support of they want what’s best for me,” he said. “In such a challenging business and such a challenging circumstance and situation and competitive business, that might not always be the case but I do know with the six years of experience I’ve accumulated with these guys, you can really feel that. In some instances, it almost creates more challenges.”
This isn’t about TV offers
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This isn’t just about McVay getting courted by TV networks last year and into this offseason. He’s not deciding to leave coaching because he has other offers on the table. Sure, he might end up in a broadcast booth somewhere, but that won’t be the reason he leaves coaching at the young age of 36. He called last year’s speculation about him leaving for TV a “convenient narrative.”
It’s about him doing what’s best for him and his family, and the all-year grind as a coach may not be it.
“For this to have even come up last year, there’s a convenient narrative on some other options, different things like that, but the ultimate thing is you want to make sure that you make a decision that’s in the best interest of everybody that this platform provides and that you’re so fortunate to be able to have a positive influence on the amount of people that you’re capable of doing it at the level that you want to,” he said.
The NFL is a “beautiful torment” for him
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McVay loves coaching. There’s no denying that. But there’s also a lot that comes with being a coach, both good and bad. And as much as he loves being on the sideline, leading a team out of the tunnel 17-plus times from September to January (or February), the physical and mental toll it takes on him can become overbearing, which seems like the case this year.
McVay quoted Tom Brady as he attempted to put that into perspective.
“It’s a beautiful torment because I love this. I wouldn’t change any of it,” he said. “I’ve seen Tom Brady had a quote before about he hopes that his kids can find something that they’re as passionate about as he is about football, but he wouldn’t wish that torment on anybody else. And I can really relate to that. I can. I love this game and a lot of the good things that have occurred because of the people around you, but because you’ve been fortunate to be in this role over the last handful of years have been as a result of that good drive and that determination and that competitor and those different types of things.”
“And then on the flip side, if you don’t balance it and manage it the right way, it can be equally destructive,” he continued. “And so figuring those types of things out without being too dramatic is one of the things you want to make sure you’re doing.”
He still has “endless amounts of energy”
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McVay has said in recent years that he worried about burning out as a head coach. He never wanted to be someone who coached into their 60s or 70s like Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll have.
And while it’s easy to say he’s just burned out right now, he certainly isn’t physically. He never thought about Sunday being his last game or a play being the last one he’ll call because he’s still so young.
“That was never the case. I’m 36 years old,” he said. “I have endless amounts of energy still, it’s just a matter of, hey, how do you make sure as you move forward, you’re able to do it in a way that’s best for yourself, your wife, your family members? And when you are in a role of this magnitude, doing it the way that you’re capable of. And that’s what I want to be able to answer ‘yes’ to.”