"My first Super Bowl [XXVI] was in Minneapolis, which is about three hours from my house, so it was kind of like a homecoming. Trust me, there were no extra tickets. I used every ticket I had, that's for sure. I didn't know what to expect. I knew we were going to play a game and it was going to be televised, but I just didn't realize about all the marketing and how everybody wanted a piece of your time during Super Bowl week. Whether it was shoe contractors or, I remember in Minneapolis, the Zubaz people. Back in the early '90s, that was the hot item. They wanted to get their stuff out so people could see it, so they were giving it to everybody. Some players went to their factory and came back with as much as they could carry.
"I wasn't there for the building blocks of what propelled the Bills to those four Super Bowls. The building blocks of those teams were the same guys, the continuity, and that happened in the late '80s. I got to experience the best parts of it, which were the Super Bowls. The one thing that I remember in all those years with all the core guys being together is no matter how far we were down, there was always something extra. They talk about the 12th man; the 12th man to me was that no matter how far we were down, we knew we'd find a way to win. it was just a sense. I can't explain it any more than that. They talk about chemistry and all those things that make teams great; well we had a lot of physical talent, we had good offense, good defense, good special teams, but there was something extra. Marv Levy had a lot to do with that, too. He kind of was the calming, soothing father figure for the players. I think that did a lot for our play on the field as well."
- Phil Hansen, defensive end
Then Levy Said to Kelly... is loaded with great stories; its subtitle is "The Best Buffalo Bills Stories Ever Told" after all. I chose the above quote for Kurupt and his love of the Zubaz. Author Jim Gehman does an outstanding job of collecting plenty of great stories, quotes and little tidbits from every decade of Buffalo Bills football - stories like the one about offensive lineman Ken Jones switching his uniform number to avoid holding calls. However, while researching this book I came across this review:
As a Bills fan, I was eager to get this book. As Jim Kelly is my favorite player and Marv Levy my favorite coach, I couldn't wait to get into it. While there are some great stories in it, from the 1960s on up, there is not a single story about Jim Kelly, or Marv Levy, much less anything that Marv said to Jim. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. The title and picture is VERY misleading, to say the least. They are hardly mentioned! Still, if you want stories from the early Bills years, and even some good ones about Reed, BeBee, Lofton, Metz, etc. from the Super Bowl teams, then enjoy it as that. Just don't expect anything about Levy and Kelly. So disappointing.
At first I dismissed this, but I suppose it is worth noting that the reviewer in this case isn't necessarily wrong. If you love you some Jim Kelly and some Marv Levy, and you want to read up more about those two and their relationship, then this isn't the book for you. If you are looking for some great stories about Bills players from the past, and learning more about the team we love, however, then this is probably one of the first books you should buy.
Was it worth it?
While I received this book as a Father's Day present and therefore paid nothing for it, the price tag on the cover is $22.95 flat rate, no Canadian differential. While that is a little high, is does also come with a CD which contains interviews with author Jim Gehman, Jim Ritcher, Elbert Dubenion, Darryl Talley, and Joe DeLamiellure. There really isn't anything ground-breaking on the CD, and some of the questions did remind me of this. It was amusing, however, to hear Joe D's wife correct him on the month their first child was born. Then Levy Said to Kelly... is a great place to start for any Bills fan who wants to read more about the Bills. And even if you do find the title to be a little misleading, you would still have to agree that the price tag is worth it for all the terrific nuggets that come with it, whether they be about Jim Kelly and Marv Levy or not.
Then Levy Said to Kelly... the best Buffalo Bills stories ever told, gets my best grade to date, an A. As I said above, if you are looking for a place to start, with general Buffalo Bills stories, this is the book for you. Gehman covers the first four decades of Bills football and has stories covering players like Steve Freeman, Scott Radecic, Ray Bentley, and Kenneth Davis. A true collection of some of the best Buffalo Bills stories ever told.