The Ennobler

You may remember Marv Levy as the coach of the Buffalo Bills teams that went to an unprecedented four consecutive Super Bowls, inspiring them with pregame aphorisms such as his famous coinage, “Where else would you rather be than right here, right now?” You may not be aware of his unorthodoxies, at least relative to the National Football League: a vegetarian with a Master’s in English History from Harvard and a penchant for WWI and II allusions in motivating his players, Levy the teacher-coach instilled a team spirit of honorable toughness. (Upon the Bills clinching a playoff spot in 1988, causing joyous fans to tear down the goalposts, Levy remarked to his players: “We’ve liberated Paris, but we’re 600 miles from Berlin.”) His autobiography, just published, contains a large dose of his straight talk and careful thinking, and some pretty corny old-guy humor. It also displays the noble attitude that, absorbed by his players, made the Bills for a long time the most resilient and battle-ready outfit in football.