Archive for Saturday, August 4, 2001

Hall of Fame: Levy’s leadership puts him in shrine

August 4, 2001


— Marv Levy learned toughness, preparation and discipline from his father, a Chicago grocer who was a Marine in World War I. The lesson he learned himself was how to coach.

"It's nothing to do with a pep talk or a one-day speech. I don't think you bludgeon them. I don't think you grab them by the shirt and kick butt," Levy said of his coaching philosophy. "That is a concept that many people have of what leadership is. I don't believe it is at all."

For the lessons he passed on to his players during 1112 superlative seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Levy will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame today. Joining him in the class of 2001 are defensive linemen Nick Buoniconti and Jack Youngblood, offensive linemen Mike Munchak, Jackie Slater and Ron Yary and wide receiver Lynn Swann.

Younger fans probably formed their image of Levy from TV footage of an angry white-haired man arguing a call with an official, often punctuating his points with arms waving or fingers pointing.

In reality, he is probably one of the most thoughtful and mild-mannered NFL coaches.

"Leadership is the ability to get other people to get the best out of themselves," said Levy, who has a masters degree from Harvard. "It's manifested by getting them not to follow you but to join you."

The Bills of the 1980s and 1990s were models of consistency and disciplined play thanks to the tutelage of Levy.

Levy's Bills averaged 10 wins a year, but are best remembered for four losses in consecutive Super Bowls including one to the Giants in 1991 when Scott Norwood's 47-yard field-goal attempt on the game's final play went wide right.

"It takes tremendous qualities of character to get so disappointed, to get so knocked down, and then to pick yourself up and then go through all the hard work and dedication it takes to get back there," he said. "It was a very resilient group, guys who stuck together."

Levy also coached Kansas City from 1978-82. Under Levy, the Chiefs improved each season from a 4-12 in 1978 to 9-7 in 1981. He left Kansas City following a 3-6 strike-shortened season in 1982.

After stints in the USFL and CFL, Levy coached the Bills from 1986-1997. He guided Buffalo to the playoffs in eight of 11 seasons and retired with an overall record of 154-120.

The new inductees will also be introduced during Monday night's annual Hall of Fame exhibition game between the Dolphins and St. Louis Rams.

Seven inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame today at Canton, Ohio:

Nick Bouniconti, Linebacker

1962-1968 Boston Patriots, 1969-1974, 1976 Miami Dolphins ... 14 seasons, 183 games ... Helped Pats win 1963 AFL Eastern Division title ... Played in five AFL All-Star games with Pats and one with Miami ... Ranks seventh in Pats history for career interceptions, 24 ... Was Dolphins MVP in 1969 ... Following AFL-NFL merger was named to two Pro Bowls ... Part of Dolphins "No Name Defense" ... Helped Dolphins make three consecutive Super Bowl appearances (Super Bowls VI, VII, VIII), winning two, including undefeated 1972 season ... Recorded 32 career interceptions ... Voted to All-Time AFL Team.

Marv Levy, Coach

1978-1982 Kansas City, 1986-1997 Buffalo ... Regular season record: 143-112-0 ... Postseason record: 11-8-0 ... Overall record: 154-120-0 ... Under Levy, Chiefs improved each season from a 4-12 in 1978 to 9-7 in 1981 ... Left Chiefs following 3-6 strike-shortened season, 1982 ... Set a new standard for NFL head coaches when he took Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls ... Guided Bills to playoffs in eight of 11 seasons ... Posted back-to-back 13-3 records with the Bills, 1990, 1991 ... NFL Coach of the Year 1988 ... Began pro coaching career as kicking coach for the Eagles, 1969 ... Rams special teams coach, 1970 ... Redskins special teams coach, 1971-1972 ... Head coach, Montreal (CFL), 1973-1977 ... Head coach, Chicago (USFL), 1984 ... Director of football operations, Montreal (CFL), 1985.

Mike Munchak, Guard

1982-1993 Houston ... 12 seasons, 159 games ... Selected by Houston in the first round (8th overall) of 1982 draft ... Earned starting left guard spot as a rookie ... Key to an line that kept the Oilers at or near the top of NFL's offensive statistical categories ... Oilers led NFL in total offense in 1990 and passing offense in 1990 and 1991 ... Team finished second in points scored in 1990 and total offense in 1991 ... Equally effective as pass or run blocker, team finished 4th in NFL in 1993 in both average gain per rushing play (4.4) and average gain per offensive play (5.3) ... Named All-Pro four times and selected to play in nine Pro Bowls.

Jackie Slater, Tackle

1976-1995 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams ... 20 seasons, 259 games ... Retired tied for third most seasons played in NFL history ... His 259 regular-season games played was most by offensive lineman at the time of his retirement ... Was first- or second-team All-Pro choice five seasons ... Known for work ethic and leadership skills, earned seven Pro Bowl berths (1984, 1986-1991) ... Blocked for seven different 1,000-yard rushers ... Played in 107 games in which runner gained 100-plus yards ... Twenty-seven times Rams' quarterbacks passed for 300-plus yards in a game with Slater as blocker ... In 1983, Rams offensive line allowed league-low 23 sacks while Eric Dickerson also rushed for rookie record 1,808 yards.

Lynn Swann, Receiver

1974-1982 Pittsburgh ... Nine seasons, 115 games ... No. 1 draft pick (21st overall), 1974 ... Used on punt returns as rookie before making 49 catches for 781 yards and league-high 11 touchdowns in his second season ... Finished season by winning MVP honors in Super Bowl X with 161 yards gained on four receptions, including 64-yard game-winning catch ... Career record: 336 receptions for 5,462 yards, 51 touchdowns ... 364 career reception yards ranked first in Super Bowl record book when he retired ... Had 41 punt returns for 577 yards, 1 touchdown and 14.1-yard average as rookie ... Scored 318 points on 53 touchdowns ... All-Pro, 1975, 1977, 1978, All-AFC three times ... Played in three Pro Bowls.

Ron Yary, Tackle

1968-1981 Minnesota, 1982 Los Angeles Rams ... 15 seasons, 207 games ... First pick in 1968 draft ... Missed only two games with injuries (broken ankle, 1980) ... Played with broken foot same year ... Took over as regular right tackle in mid-season, 1969 ... All-Pro, 1971-76 ... Played in seven Pro Bowls, 1972-1978 ... Starting right tackle in four Super Bowls and five NFL/NFC championships.

Jack Youngblood, Defensive End

1971-1984 Los Angeles Rams ... 14 seasons, 202 games ... 20th player selected, first round, 1971 ... Backed up Deacon Jones at defensive left end as rookie, became full-time regular in third season ... Perennial Rams' sack leader ... Played 201 consecutive games, a Rams record ... Missed only one game in 14 years ... Rams defensive captain ... Had one sack, one forced fumble, one blocked PAT, TD interception in 1975 playoff vs. St. Louis ... Fractured left fibula in 1979 first-round playoff game, was fitted with brace, played every defensive down in NFC title game, Super Bowl XIV ... Played in five NFC championships ... All-Pro in 1974-76, 1978-79 ... Played in seven straight Pro Bowls, 1974-1980.

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