CANTON, OHIO 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.