Buffalo Bills: Bill Polian owes Hall of Fame induction to Marv Levy


Buffalo Bills: Bill Polian owes Hall of Fame induction to Marv Levy

As Bill Polian looked around the packed stadium, he could barely believe where he was standing. It was almost as if he was thinking he didn’t deserve to be there.

In fairness, a lot of people would feel the same, especially when confronted with 111 fellow gentlemen, also wearing gold jackets. However, whatever Polian may think, he more than deserved to be up on that stage at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

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As fortunate as the 72-year old may feel, the Buffalo Bills and their fans likely share similar sentiments. They have had more reason that most to celebrate this time of year, since just before the turn of the century.

Since 1999 – ironically the year the Bills last made the playoffs – they have had 10 inductees into the Hall of Fame. The list makes for impressive reading.

There’s Thurman Thomas, the only player in NFL history to lead the league in total yards from scrimmage for four straight seasons. How about Bruce Smith, the NFL’s all-time sack leader.

Let’s not forget Jim Kelly, the only quarterback to lead a team to four straight Super Bowls. And to top it all off, Marv Levy, the head coach charged with getting the best out of a truly talented, but sometimes dysfunctional, roster.

Aug 8, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Bill Polian poses with bust and presenter Marv Levy and Buffalo Bills enshrinees during the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone who played under Levy, has a special appreciation for the man. This appreciation only grows with the passage of time, as Thomas, Smith, Kelly and company wondering how the great man managed to keep all their egos in check.

Along those lines, it should come as no surprise that Polian also feels indebted to Levy. In fact, the former Bills general manager saved the best to last on Saturday, when mentioning his head coach in Buffalo.

As reported by Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News, Polian said: “Four decade ago (Marv Levy) took an interest in an obscure scout, whose reports impressed him. That was me.

“If not for Marv, I would not have a career in pro football, let alone be standing here. He was my role model, my mentor my friend.”

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A glance over towards Levy showed that he was visibly emotional, as Polian continued by saying: “For me, he represents all I ever aspired to be when I was a young man dreaming impossible dream.”

Given the bond between the two, it was no surprise the 90-year old Levy introduced his close friend on Saturday, Polian had done the same, when the two-time UPI NFL Coach of the Year was inducted at Canton, Ohio back in 2001.

As reported by Dunne, when introducing Polian on Saturday, Levy said: “We weren’t just great colleagues, we were great friends. And Bill had a very strong belief that the total organization wins.

“Everybody in the organization is important, and he related to the players. He liked them.”

For all the gratitude Polian has for Levy, he also did his bit, helping build the Bills into a consistent contender. The six-time Executive of the Year finally went on to win a Super Bowl in Indianapolis, with a certain Peyton Manning as his quarterback.

Given this resume, it came as no surprise to hear Levy refer to the current ESPN analyst as “the greatest general manager ever in the history of the National Football League.”

It was refreshing to hear Polian, renowned for his short fuse, sounding so humble and grateful. He captured all the right notes during his 18 minute speech.

Perhaps best summing it up, was a reference to all the players and coaches he had ever worked with: “My honor is your honor. I stand here on your shoulders.

“I am here because of you, and I am forever grateful.” Undoubtedly, Levy was at the forefront of Polian’s thoughts, as he wrote those words.

Next: Three games that will shape the Bills season