From Montreal to Chicago to Kansas City to Buffalo, Marv Levy has traveled the bumpy, winding career path of a professional football head coach. That road will come to an end today with the expected announcement of his retirement as coach of the Buffalo Bills after 12 seasons at the club's helm.
Levy, 72, who led the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls, is the dean of NFL coaches, having the longest tenure with his current team through this season.
He has the most wins of any Bills' coach with a record of 123-78. His overall NFL record, including a five-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, is 154-120. Levy ranks 11th on the NFL's list of winning coaches.
A physical fitness buff who enjoys reading English literature and historic novels, Levy is able to quote Winston Churchill and Vince Lombardi in the same breath. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1950 and a year later, earned a master's degree in English history from Harvard.
Born Aug. 3, 1925 in Chicago, Levy graduated from Chicago's South Shore High School and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces, where he served from 1943 to 1946, before entering college. During his collegiate days, he was a standout running back and a sprinter on Coe's track team.
Levy started his coaching career on the high school level as head coach at St. Louis Country Day School. His teams were 13-0-1 combined for 1951 and 1952 and a year later, he entered college coaching at his alma mater and stayed there for three seasons as an assistant.
Later collegiate coaching stints included the University of New Mexico (1956-59), University of California (1960-63) and William & Mary (1964-68).
At New Mexico, Levy was voted Skyline Conference Coach of the Year in 1958 and 1959, and he was selected as Southern Conference Coach of the Year with William & Mary in 1964 and 1965.
His team's 27-16 victory over the Naval Academy in 1967 was later called one of the 10 greatest upsets in college football history by the NCAA.
Levy began his professional career as special teams coach of the Philadelphia Eagles under head coach Jerry Williams in 1969 and joined George Allen's Los Angeles Rams staff in that capacity a year later. He followed Allen to the Washington Redskins and stayed for the 1971 and 1972 seasons.
Levy moved north to take the head coaching job with the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes in 1973 and stayed there for five seasons, leading his club to two Grey Cup championships (1974 and 1977). His record with Montreal was 50-34-4.
Levy became an NFL head coach in 1978 with Kansas City and stayed there five seasons, leaving after the strike-shortened 1982 campaign for a career in broadcasting that ran nearly two years. One of his assignments was working as color analyst for Bills' preseason road games on Channel 7.
Levy coached for one season (1984) in the United States Football League with the Chicago Blitz, before the club's demise due to financial problems. It was during that time with the Blitz that Levy forged professional relationships with Bill Polian and John Butler, who would eventually join Levy in the Bills' front office.
In the middle of the 1986 season, Levy was director of football operations for the Alouettes when Polian chose him to replace the fired Hank Bullough as Bills' head coach. The club finished 2-5 during Levy's stewardship that year.
The turnaround in the Buffalo football fortunes began in 1987, Levy's first full season, when the Bills posted a 7-8 record.
After winning the first four games, the Bills ended 1988 12-4 and were AFC East champions, falling to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game.
The 1989 season brought a 9-7 record and a first-round playoff defeat against Cleveland, but the next four seasons each ended with Super Bowl appearances. The Bills, under Levy's leadership, continued to strive for the goal of a World Championship that was well within reach but never achieved.
Following a second consecutive Super Bowl loss to the Dallas Cowboys to end the 1993 campaign, the Bills dropped to 7-9 in 1994, but bounced back to win the AFC East again in 1995 with a 10-6 record, only to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC divisional playoff game.
The Bills made the playoffs again in 1996 with a 10-6 record, losing at home to Jacksonville, 30-27, in a wild-card game.
This season, the Bills stumbled to a 6-10 record.