Former Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy is uniquely qualified to discuss current general manager Buddy Nix. Levy held Nix's current job in 2006 and 2007, and also worked with Nix during his first stint with the Bills as head coach from 1986 to 1997.
"Buddy was on our scouting staff, and I had very favorable impressions of him," Levy said. "He was on top of it. He gave good reports. My impressions were very positive."
Levy doesn't talk with anyone inside the organization on a consistent basis, so he didn't want to go in-depth about the current state of the team or give Nix any advice. When the conversation moved towards the 2012 Bills, the only strong opinion Levy had was about Ryan Fitzpatrick. Those very favorable comments were discussed yesterday.
"It's a total organization that wins," answered Levy about Nix as general manager. With what he called "no knowledge of how Buddy is working in his role," Levy didn't want to speculate on Nix's abilities as the top personnel man.
"I don't follow the team like I once did," Levy continued. "I don't have micro-opinions on everything they do. One of the things I don't want to do is keep calling them and tell them what I think they ought to be doing. The last thing in the world I would have wanted was some consultant who wasn't there full-time, immersed 100 percent in the operation."
Nix may have different opinions of Levy as general manager. Only two players brought in during Levy's tenure remain with the team: 2006 fifth-round pick Kyle Williams and 2006 street free agent signing Fred Jackson.
"We liked him very much as a college player," said Levy of Williams. "You can't put out one quality. Persistence in the league and preparation are such a big part going together with your god-given talents, and apparently he has those qualities. We saw that in him."
Many of those same qualities applied to Jackson, who took a strange and well-documented road from 155-pound college freshman to the NFL.
"You talk about great character," Levy said when he brought up Jackson's name. "Great balance is what a running back needs. He does it all - he can receive, he can pick up the blitz. Great character guy, great teammate. He's got all the qualities I thought you should see, and sometimes guys come from nowhere."
When discussing his teams from the 1990s, Levy all but refused any credit. The only time during the entire conversation where he approached patting himself on the back was discussing Jackson.
"At Coe College, my alma mater, there was a legendary coach there named Wayne - not Wade - Phillips, and Wayne had played for me when I coached there," continued Levy. "He called me and said there was a kid who really developed there at Coe and I should take a look at him. I did. No one wanted to sign him. We sent him to the Arena League and he was the MVP. No one wanted to sign him - even the Bills. We sent him to NFL Europe and he was the MVP. They were still reluctant. We finally brought him on board."
Chan Gailey's name didn't come up during our conversation, but Levy has a reputation for applying an old saying to explain something. His thoughts would have been presumably as tight-lipped on Gailey as Nix, but he did offer this little tidbit:
"They won (Sunday), and that's what counts," Levy said. "Someone once said that 'the coaching genius is the guy who won last Sunday.'"