Levy kept his wit during Super Bowl futility
Reported by Scott Pitoniak
The Friday before the Super Bowl the head coaches of the respective teams come in for their press conference with the media herd. They’re usually pretty bland sessions as neither coach wants to give the other team any bulletin board fodder just two days before kickoff. Before addressing the media, the coach traditionally is asked to pose with the Lombardi Trophy for the assembled photographs.
Interestingly, the first three Super Bowls he attended, Bills Coach Marv Levy refused to pose with the award because he was superstitious. But when it came his turn for his Friday press conference at the Bills fourth Super Bowl in Atlanta in 1994, he decided that it might change his luck if he did pose with football’s holy grail. Alas, his team’s fortunes remained the same as it completed its 0-4 run two days later in the Georgia Dome, losing to the Dallas Cowboys a second straight year.
The thing I remember most about Levy’s press conference that final time was his humorous response to a reporter’s query about this Super Bowl being a must-win.
“No,’’ Levy answered resolutely and without skipping a beat. “World War II was a must win.”
Tomorrow, 44 members of the Professional Football Writers of America will gather in a meeting room at their Dallas media hotel to determine the Hall of Fame Class of 2011. Honestly, I have no idea if Bills receiver Andre Reed will make the cut.
I covered his entire Buffalo career and I think he’s deserving. But he’s been overlooked by the voters so far, and with each passing year it’s going to become more difficult for him because so many more receivers with inflated statistics are going to become eligible.
Andre wasn’t flashy or a speed demon, but he was as good as they come after catching the football. He and his contemporary, Jerry Rice, literally invented the statistical category YAC - yards after catch. To me, he was an integral part of the Bills Big Three on offense during Buffalo’s unprecedented Super Bowl run, and deserves to have his bust in Canton next to those of quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas.
Speaking of busts, a Super Bowl victory for Pittsburgh Steeler and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamulu certainly would aid his argument for football immortality. And when and if he earns enshrinement in Canton, the sculptor entrusted to make his bust will have his work cut out for him, trying to capture in bronze Troy’s long locks.
If you’re concerned about your financial portfolio, you probably should root for the Steelers, because each time they’ve won it all, the S&P 500 Index rises an average of 15 percent.
I’ve always been partial to human-interest stories, and my favorite from this Super Bowl involves Green Bay receiver James Jones. From birth till junior high school, Jones was homeless, bouncing with his family from shelter to shelter.
When he reached high school in San Jose, he moved in with his grandmother and wound up winning a football scholarship to San Jose State.
In an effort to thank those who helped him along the way and give hope to those who believe there is none, Jones has set up programs for the homeless in San Jose and Green Bay. And he’s using this week’s forum as a Super Bowl participant to raise awareness about the plight of the homeless in this country. It’s a remarkable story.
We all know that “Wide Right” was the Bills worst Super Bowl moment among many. But what’s their best? I’m thinking Don Beebe’s hustle play to knock the ball out of Leon Lett’s hands while he was showboating his way toward the end zone. Buffalo was getting crushed by the Dallas Cowboys and the play had no bearing on anything but the final score. But it spoke to Beebe’s desire to keep playing all-out despite the odds.
The more I learn about the Steelers organization, the more I wish the Bills would follow suit. Sixteen of Steelers starters were drafted by Pittsburgh and two others were signed as college free agents. And they’ve had only three head coaches – Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin – since the 1970 merger. There’s something to be said for home-grown talent and continuity.
Another thing for the Steelers defense to think about: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the Packers second-leading rusher.
Forbes puts the value of the Packers at 1.01 billion and of the Steelers at $998 million. So even on the ledger sheets, the teams are closely matched.
In case you missed it – and you’re probably better off if you did – John “Super” Squibb won the 19th annual Wing Bowl in Philly this morning by consuming – grab the Pepto Bisomo – 255 chicken wings. The 6-foot-4 New Jersey accountant won $20,000 for his gluttony. His bank account wasn’t the only thing to expand. A rough estimate put his intake at 40,000 calories.