Ferragamo's business acumen serving him well

Vince Ferragamo led the Rams to the Super Bowl; two years later, he was playing in Canada. Focus On Sport/Getty Images

You're 25 years old, you have the type of good looks that most of us would kill for, and you play quarterback in a Super Bowl in Pasadena for a team from Los Angeles.

And you thought the writers in Hollywood were on strike.

But it wasn't fantasy at all. Vince Ferragamo lived it ... and loved every moment of it.

Ferragamo, the strong-armed kid from the University of Nebraska, led the then-L.A. Rams to Super Bowl XIV against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In a game many thought would be a blowout for the Steelers, the upstart Rams actually were leading at the end of the third quarter. Only Pittsburgh's steely resolve and some late heroics by Terry Bradshaw and John Stallworth averted one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, and the Steelers won their fourth title, 31-19.

"The Steelers had so many guys who knew what to do in that situation that it was going to be impossible to shake them up," Ferragamo said. "We played a great game, but we were unable to put them away. When the fourth quarter came and they needed to rally, I don't think anyone was surprised they came up big."

Despite the loss, Ferragamo, a native Californian, garnered rock-star status around L.A. He followed up his Super Bowl appearance with another productive year, throwing for a career-high 30 TDs and leading the Rams back to the playoffs.

However, after the 1980 season, Ferragamo shocked the Rams by signing with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League for $400,000.

"It was strictly business," he said of his one-season move before returning to the Rams. "I loved California, but I had to focus on my career and made a decision based on business first."

Today, big business decisions are at the forefront of Ferragamo's world. He runs a real estate company and recently launched his own private-label wine company. He's also chairman of the Vince Ferragamo Foundation, which raises money for children's causes, including the Special Olympics.

"Between my businesses, the charitable foundation and my family, my life is pretty full these days," Ferragamo said. "And I love every moment of it."

Still, the void left from his playing days remains.

"The thrills I had on the field in L.A. and even Montreal, you can't duplicate those in the corporate world," he acknowledged. "Sometimes I'll do a motivational speech, and that's the closest I come in terms of getting fired up.

"I'll be honest -- I miss playing the game."

Rudy Klancnik is a freelance writer based in Texas.