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LEVY TO DISPLAY ANALYTICAL SKILLS ON BILLS EXHIBITION GAMES

Can't wait to hear what former Bills coach Marv Levy has to say on Aug. 8, when he is the color analyst alongside play-by-play man John Murphy on the Bills' first preseason game in Pittsburgh.

Levy, who replaces Jerry Butler as Channel 7's Bills insider, is no stranger to the analyst role. Before becoming Buffalo's head coach, Levy did color on Bills games alongside Rick Azar. Prior to that, he was an analyst for NBC and ESPN.

This time, he'll be discussing some of his former players and his replacement, Wade Phillips.

The opener generally features so many marginal players and so little strategy that Levy won't be called on to make any important pronouncements.

His comments on the preseason game that Channel 7 carries on Aug. 21 in Chicago should be more informative, because, by then, it should be clearer if the team is heading in the right direction.

"I'm not coming in to say, 'I would have done it this way,' " Levy said via telephone from Chicago. "Everybody would do it differently."

His plan is to discuss what a coach is thinking during the game, to describe the pressure on players and to note if a particular play will have an impact on whether a marginal player will make the team.

For now, the two preseason games are the only ones that Levy will announce. But he is keeping busy giving about one motivational speech to groups every week.

He was unable to land a network announcing job. Does he know why?

"No one will tell you directly," Levy said. "In the case of CBS, you keep hearing 'we want to be contemporary and go after the young audience.' I felt I had insights that others didn't have. It's a little hurtful if the reason was age because there are other important things like motivation, preparation and knowledge."

But does he believe it was age?

"Yeah, I do," he said, reluctantly.

That's the word I've been hearing, too.

"I'm not giving up," he added. "Something might still come up."

Levy also is talking with the Empire Sports Network about doing something this fall. He said his plan is to stay in Western New York during the football season.

Murphy's contract up

Speaking of Murphy, his Channel 7 contract runs out in about a month.

"I love Murphy," said Bill Ransom, Channel 7's general manager.

He added that talks with Murphy haven't started. So we'll have to wait and see how much he loves him.

Though there has been speculation that Murphy has been unhappy at the station, the sportscaster says he wants to stay as Channel 7's No. 1 sports anchor.

A few weeks ago, a rumor surfaced that Murphy was talking with Channel 4 about becoming the No. 1 sportscaster there now that Van Miller has retired from anchoring duties.

Murphy said that report was false and he hadn't talked to anyone at WIVB-TV.

Channel 4 officials said they were extremely happy with their new No. 1 guy, Dennis Williams, hadn't talked with Murphy and have no place for him.

Around the dial

Jim Kelly is going to be a very busy man this football season working for ESPN. But he has also found the time to continue his weekly Channel 2 show. His Bills program -- which served as a rehearsal for his network work -- will air each Sunday during the season at 10:30 a.m.

It will be sandwiched in between "Oral Roberts" and "The Metro Home Show," which isn't exactly prime placement.

According to a Channel 2 official, the show has to air that early because Kelly begins his regular job on "NFL Countdown" at 11 a.m. Sunday and ESPN doesn't want him competing with himself.

Paul Peck, who already is working on the Bills pregame show for 97 Rock and 103.3 The Edge, will be the color analyst alongside Van Miller for the two games that Murphy is working for Channel 7. Peck previously has done radio play-by-play for University at Buffalo football games.

Marcus Allen doesn't expect to have any trouble being critical in his new announcing role.

"I was pretty critical of players while I played," he said.

Allen did tiptoe around a question about the $25 million contract given to Rob Johnson, a fellow USC graduate, by the Bills.

"I don't know Rob very well," Allen said. "He did a wonderful job when he backed up in Jacksonville. I don't know if that warranted him signing that large of a deal, but the perception was he was a great quarterback, and obviously Buffalo felt the same way, so they signed him. That is a lot of money.

"Congratulations to him. . . . Hopefully, he can live up to the expectations that they have for him in Buffalo."

CBS will team Steve Tasker with Gus Johnson on NFL broadcasts.

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