Marv Levy Buffalo Bills & Kansas City Chiefs
"You have to have balance. I’m talking about three departments of play—offense, defense and the kicking game. All three areas are important. It’s an oversimplification but the offense sells tickets, the defense wins games and the kicking game wins championships.”
In 1986, when Marv Levy was chosen to direct the fortunes of the Buffalo Bills, he brought with him more than 30 years of coaching experience. A graduate of Coe College, Levy began his pro coaching career in 1969 as kicking teams coach for the Philadelphia Eagles before joining George Allen’s staff as a special teams coach for the Los Angeles Rams in 1970.
He followed Allen to Washington in 1971, where he served as the Redskins special teams coach for two seasons. Levy then served as the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League for five seasons. After two CFL Grey Cup championships, Levy returned to the NFL in 1978 as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.
When he joined the Chiefs, the team was coming off a 2-12 season. Under his leadership, the team steadily improved, posting a 4-12 record in 1978, followed by a 7-9 season in 1979, 8-8 in 1980 and 9-7 in 1981. He left the Chiefs after a disappointing 3-6 in the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Midway through the 1986 season, following a two-year hiatus from coaching and one season as the head coach of the Chicago Blitz of the United States Football League, Levy returned to the NFL as head coach of the Bills. He finished the season with a 2-5 record. In 1987, his first full season with the Bills, the team returned to respectability with a 7-8 record and were in the playoff hunt throughout most of the season.
The following season the team posted a 12-4 record and won the first of six AFC Eastern Division titles. With his high-powered “no-huddle” offense, Levy, who has a master’s degree in English History from Harvard, went on to set a new standard for NFL coaches as he led his AFC championship team to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances.
From 1988 through 1997, the Bills were first in the AFC in winning percentage and second only to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. Levy, the winningest coach in Bills’ history, recorded a 112-70 regular season record and was 11-8 in the playoffs during his 11 1/2 seasons with the Bills. He was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1988 and AFC Coach of the Year in 1988, 1993, and 1995.