Former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy is pretty humble. How many Hall of Famers can hold down a 15-minute conversation while effusing praise for others and none on themselves? That's what Levy did when we spoke on Monday morning.
"Yes, we had talent," Levy said by phone earlier this week. "We had ability. No one cared who got the credit. There was very little placing of blame when things went wrong.
"Players like Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Darryl Talley, Kent Hull (were the headliners) - but there was internal leadership on that team that helped get some guys that were a little bit on the borderline of would they condition themselves, to get them on the right track and help them realize their great abilities. [It was a] combination of resilience, hard work, care for each other and preparation."
Levy was quick to pass the credit around as we discussed the Bills teams that went to four straight Super Bowls. No one received more praise than former general manager Bill Polian, who Levy called "not the best general manager in the league, (but) the greatest general manager ever in the National Football League."
He used the same compliment for Polian three times during the conversation, but never said anything about himself. We'll have to do it for him.
Levy won 112 of his 182 games as the head coach in Buffalo after taking over a team that was 2-14 in the two seasons before his arrival. He helmed the ship to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances, and all but one of the team's playoff victories since the AFL-NFL merger. In 2001, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Today, he is receiving a special honor as a member of the "Hometown Hall of Famers presented by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall off Fame." Levy is traveling back to his high school - a place he says he hasn't been in 70 years - where a plaque will permanently share his successes. He'll also speak to the student body.
"I'm very honored and excited," said Levy of the ceremony.
That was as close as he came to patting himself on the back.
"I had the greatest General Manager ever in Bill Polian and a great Director of Player Personnel in John Butler," said Levy, who also credited "fantastic" team owner Ralph Wilson. "How do you get better than that? We just combined the support we got from Mr. Wilson, but it was the whole organization."
We'll have more from our conversation with Marv Levy later this week.