Sean McVay is the youngest head coach in NFL history to lead a team to the Super Bowl. But he’s got football wisdom well beyond his years, in part because of his grandfather, John McVay.
John McVay was the head coach of the New York Giants from 1976 through 1978, and he worked in the San Francisco 49ers’ front office from 1980 through 1999, with his final two years there spent in the general manager role. During his time there, he worked with legendary coach Bill Walsh to win three Super Bowls. McVay was there for two more Super Bowl wins with George Seifert at the helm, securing dynasty status for the Niners.
The 49ers won Super Bowl XVI in 1981 and Super Bowl XIX in 1985, before McVay was even born. The third win for Walsh, Super Bowl XXIII, was played two days before McVay’s third birthday.
That made McVay too young to really get to know Walsh, but growing up around that era’s most successful team and his grandfather’s respect for Walsh all had an impact on McVay.
“Bill Walsh is arguably one of the best of all time, and we certainly had a lot of respect for what he meant to this game, and we definitely try to take some of those things for sure,” McVay said. “The meticulous detail, the organization, the new-age approach that he really took to practice, how to maximize players’ abilities.”
Walsh was the father of the West Coast offense, and McVay uses West Coast concepts in the Rams’ No. 2-ranked scoring offense. McVay has also relied on Walsh’s books, The Score Takes Care of Itself in particular, to help shape his approach to leadership.
“The Score Takes Care Of Itself is the one that has been the most beneficial in terms of being able to implement those things,” McVay said. “I love that book. It’s been a great one.”
John McVay’s last Super Bowl with the 49ers was Super Bowl XXIX in 1995. Now, 24 years later and at 88 years of age, he’ll be in Atlanta to watch his grandson try to add a Lombardi Trophy to his own resume.
“He is going to get a chance to be here, and that really means a lot to our family,” Sean said. “This wouldn’t have occurred without his influence on the league. It’s such a small network, and I’m not naive (enough) to think I would get these opportunities if it wasn’t for the legacy that my grandfather was able to establish.”
Regardless of the outcome for McVay’s Rams against the Patriots on Sunday, it will surely be a proud moment for John McVay.