The Art of Sport with Marv Levy
July 21, 2014 – An “Art of Sport” Q&A feature with former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy will also be published in the August Issue of Yankees Magazine. Like Jim Boeheim (see blog entry below), Levy etched his name into sports lore during his time in Western New York. Among his accomplishments on the sidelines, Levy led the Bills to an unprecedented four consecutive AFC championships.
I spoke with the Hall of Fame coach over lunch at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse in Chicago — which is Levy’s hometown.
After discussing his childhood in the Windy City, I asked Levy what his favorite memory of Wrigley Field was.
“I was at the last World Series game played there,” Levy said. “World War II had ended about two months before, and I was still in the service. The Cubs won Game 6 to even the Series up against the Tigers on the day I got back to Chicago. My friend and I went to Wrigley to get tickets, and the line was practically from here to Milwaukee, but we got the tickets and went to Game 7.”
Once the top of conversation turned to football, Levy discussed what it was like coaching in Buffalo, one of the NFL’s smallest cities.
“We had great fans,” Levy said. “Even when we lost that first Super Bowl game, there were 30,000 people waiting to greet us. Buffalo is thought of as being in the Rust Belt with awful weather, but it’s a very quaint town. It was a wonderful place to live. When the Bills drafted Jim [Kelly], he didn’t want to live in Buffalo, so he went to the USFL. But he still lives there now, and he once said, ‘No one ever wants to come to Buffalo, but once they get here, they don’t want to leave.’”
Levy also shared the backstory about when he began saying, “Where else would you rather be than right here, right now,” to his teams at the start of each game.
“The first time I ever said that was before my first game as a head coach at the University of New Mexico,” Levy said. “As we were getting ready for the kickoff, I felt all of that excitement welling up inside of me, and it just came out. I said it before the kickoff of every game I ever coached.
“On one occasion, before a freezing cold Sunday night game in Buffalo, we were walking up the tunnel and I turned to one of my assistant coaches, Elijah Pitts, and said, “Where else would you rather be than right here, right now,’” Levy continued. “He said, ‘I’d rather be at home and in bed after we win this game.’”
Before Levy and I left the iconic restaurant in Chicago, we participated in the time-honored tradition of posing for a photo with the bust of the late Harry Caray (below).
To read the rest of the interview with Levy, be sure to turn to “The Art of Sport” in the August Issue of Yankees Magazine.
–Alfred Santasiere III