Thursday featured the arrival of two iconic former NFL coaches, Dick Vermeil and Marv Levy, to Radio Row.
Both men deserve more copy than this, but with Madonna squeezing our resources, here’s a recap of our time together:
- Vermeil believes Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his Giants
counterpart, Tom Coughlin, will deliver the goods Sunday. “Both of these coaches have been here and done it, so they have an organized plan, through their experiences, and they improve their plan every time they get back,” Vermeil said. “But you have to be very fortunate to get back. I think the overall emphasis would be to keep the routines close to the successful preparation you used all year, and change it as little as you have to.”
- Vermeil hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still spirited, eyes watering with emotion, searching carefully for his words. I asked him if he’d consider one more comeback. “I’m too old to do it well,” he said. “They pay you a lot of money to do it today, and to earn what they pay you, you better be able to work when you’re tired. When you’re older, it’s hard to work when you’re tired. And all you are in the National Football League is a coach when you’re tired.”
- While waiting for Levy to wrap up a sit-down with ESPN Radio, I spoke with his wife, Fran, who opened up about the sacrifices these women make for their football-obsessed husbands. “When you’re a head coach’s wife, you’re very lonely, really, because they’re working long, long hours. We would have dinner on Friday night, and if we won
the game at home on Sunday, we would have dinner. But if we did not win, we would not go out. Since he retired, honestly, I love having the company, but I really can’t think my own thoughts sometimes,” Fran joked. “… But I also like to be with Marv; he’s fun to be with. He’s so smart. I love him so much.”
- Levy joined us and told me about an old January 1990 Buffalo-Cleveland playoff game that ended disastrously for the Bills when FB Ronnie Harmon dropped a potential game-winning pass in the end zone in the final seconds. One play later, Jim Kelly‘s pass was intercepted by Browns LB Clay Matthews, and Levy’s Bills were sent home. “That game was the reason we went to the no-huddle offense the next season,” Levy said, a tonal shift that turned Buffalo’s offense into a sheer terror en route to four Super Bowl appearances, albeit no wins.
— Marc Sessler