By Julia Faron
Special to Stlouisrams.com
Life after the NFL has been robust for former LA Rams’ quarterback Vince Ferragamo.
With his football career in the books, Ferragamo was drawn to a more laid back lifestyle that he could enjoy with his family and friends. The industry that fit the mold was the art of winemaking, beginning with growing the grapes, tending to them and harvesting them for production.
“I was drinking a lot of different types of wines and as I got more into it, I learned to appreciate all the different styles of wines that there are out there and the way people make wine, so that’s what got me into it,” Ferragamo said.
He turned that interest into a private-label wine company on the Tenuta di Ferragamo (Ferragamo Estate). In his personal vineyard, he harvests 1,200 lbs. of grapes, which in turn makes about 40 cases of wine.
“It’s just for family and friends,” Ferragamo said. “I donate some to local charities and there are a couple restaurants that want it, so maybe (someday I’ll sell it).”
The wine is a Sangiovese-Cabernet blend, created using a mid-way clone of those two grapes. The name of the wine is Caressa J., and comes from a combination of his three daughters’ names: Cara, Venessa, and Jenna.
“They all like wine and they drink it, they love it and help me with the harvest,” Ferragamo said. “We had a big planting party and had a bunch of friends over, it’s fun.”
After retiring from football following the 1986 season, Ferragamo dabbled in the financial arena and took an interest in real estate as a second livelihood. With a little research, he decided to open his own company, Touchdown Real Estate, and later Endzone Mortgage.
With the help of some of his financial advisors, Ferragamo experienced success in the real estate industry in Orange County, Calif., and the surrounding coastal beach area.
Ferragamo and his family also operate a foundation benefitting the Special Olympics and other need sports programs. His wife of 34 years, Jodi, pitches in on fundraising by hosting a fashion show to raise monies for breast cancer detection and hospital machinery.
Ferragamo spent the 1977 through 1984 seasons with the Rams, with the exception of the 1981 season which he spent with the CFL Montreal Alouettes. He took the Rams to the Super Bowl at the culmination of the 1979 season, the same year that he got his first NFL start.
“We were a good team then because we played as a team,” Ferragamo said. “There weren’t any individual stars, everybody just played as a team and that’s what makes a great team.”
To get to Super Bowl XIV, they had to take down Dallas – a team that had beaten the Rams by 24 points earlier in the season - and Tampa Bay, both on the road.
“We were able to beat the really good teams who had great speed, we could beat them with the deep ball because for some reason they didn’t really expect us to throw the ball like the way we did, so that’s what really gave us the edge in the big games,” Ferragamo said.
Though talented players are a necessity to win games especially in the NFL, Ferragamo credits the team’s success just as much to the camaraderie among players.
“You are always humble and play for each other,” Ferragamo said. “When you do that, that’s when you know you have a great team and a team you want to be around.”
In a record-setting game against Chicago on Dec. 26, 1982, Ferragamo threw for 509 yards (second-most in Rams history), three touchdowns and two interceptions. One of those picks came from Bears safety Jeff Fisher.
The stat brought a chuckle from Ferragamo but he carries no hard feelings towards the Rams head coach. In fact, he praised Fisher for his efforts in St. Louis.
“He’s a good communicator and he relates well to people – that’s like 90 percent of your job,” Ferragamo said. “He’s tough and you have to be tough to play football, but he also recognizes that it has to be fun and you have to have fun while you do it.”
Last season, the Rams celebrated their 75th anniversary and invited several alumni to the festivities in St. Louis for the San Francisco game.
“Jeff had us come in the locker and he wanted us to say hello to the entire team the Saturday before the game and have a fun, relaxed time,” Ferragamo said. “Tell a story about your favorite pet, favorite movie, what school you went to…fun little, crazy stuff - the guys really get into it.”
Ferragamo went on about that ‘reunion’ weekend and how much he enjoyed seeing his former teammates and being able to talk with the current players.
“I can tell you that it was a really good feeling to hear some of the other athletes that I played ball with saying, ‘Wow, it’s a like a whole hometown week, it’s nice to be welcomed back,’ I can’t tell you how great it was,” Ferragamo said.
Though the days of quarterbacking are over for Ferragamo, the memories they created continue to be cherished.
“Football has been a big part of my life, in all my years.”