The Buffalo Bills have started the 2008 season 4-0 and look to have a realistic shot at not only the playoffs but a division title. There is an increasing level of excitement around this team as expectations are now sky high. As is always the case when things are going well the praise flows freely. Much of the praise has been well earned regardless of the beneficiary.
Trent Edwards has been phenomenal, Donte Whitner has become a leader on the defense, Marcus Stroud has made a huge difference against the run, and Marshawn Lynch has been a workhorse. As far as the coaching Dick Jauron has provided steady leadership in guiding a very young team. But there is one person we don’t speak of often, and that’s Marv Levy.
Levy guided the Bills through arguably the most successful period in team history in the late 80’s and early 90’s. When he returned as GM many were happy because he brought back memories of winning seasons that had long been forgotten, and fans were desperate for any connection to those teams. But the so called experts said this was a ridiculous move by the Bills, stating that Levy was much too old to take on the job of rebuilding a team. Some started referring to the Bills front office as a joke and thought the Bills would never return to prominence.
Levy just flashed his contagious smile and acted as humble as ever, and proceeded to go about building the team we see on the field today. Levy can’t get all of the credit, as people like Tom Modrak were heavily involved in the personnel decisions. But Modrak was around with the previous regime and there was little progress made during that time.
With Levy it’s about his leadership skills. He brings people together to work towards a common cause, and even though he’s in his 80’s he has the energy and alertness of men half his age. Once again solid character and a strong work ethic are part of playing for the Bills. He brought in players such as Donte Whitner, Marshawn Lynch, Paul Posluszny, and most importantly Trent Edwards. He was questioned when he picked Whitner and Edwards. Now they lead their respective units every Sunday. Trent Edwards is mature beyond his years and a true team leader that we have not seen since Kelly. Many GM’s passed on Edwards, but Levy knew they could not pass on his talent even though Losman at the time was entrenched as the starter. Whitner was known to be a player with as much character as skill, and he proves it time and time again with his leadership. Levy also cleaned house, disposing of players such as Willis McGahee who showed little effort on the field and alienated Buffalo fans everywhere by blatantly insulting the city that so willingly accepted him when he was injured.
If the Bills return to the playoffs and eventually the Super Bowl we should all look back and praise the man who has now built winning teams in two different decades, and remember him as the icon that he is. While the players and coaches are earning their stripes each and every Sunday, there is a man that earned his stripes long ago that cared enough about this team and city to come back once more to bring them back to glory. May his efforts not be forgotten.