By Tim Graham
To celebrate what would've been Vince Lombardi's 100th birthday on June 11, ESPN is counting down its 20 greatest NFL coaches.
For the series, here's what Jim Kelly had to say about his coach:
"I think Marv Levy's biggest achievement is keeping his team mentally focused year after year after year, especially during that run of four Super Bowls. We went five years to the AFC Championship Game. Everybody knows you've got to be physically prepared for the game. If you're not, you're not going to make it. But to be able to mentally prepare your football team after a devastating loss, and forget about what happened the year before or the year before or the year before, and the resiliency our football team had, it started with Marv Levy. I know we wouldn't have gone to four Super Bowls in a row without Marv Levy.
"Probably the most influential thing about him was the way he handled the players on his team. If you remember, the guys we had -- Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Darryl Talley, Steve Tasker -- we had a bunch of different personalities, and we all had egos. Early on in Marv's career and our careers, we knew if we didn't come together as a team, it didn't matter how many superstars we had, we wouldn't make it. He made sure to make each individual understand that if we didn't put our egos to the side, we wouldn't achieve our goals. He could communicate to players in a way where we totally understood it. He was never the rah-rah, in-your-face type of guy. It was the old cliché: It's not what you said, but how you said it. Marv always knew what to say and how to say it.
"It clicked probably in 1988. The Bickering Bills came and I had something to do with that. Everybody did to a certain point. We went to the AFC Championship Game in 1988. We knew our football team was talented. In 1989, our egos started getting in the way, including myself. Marv knew what we could achieve, but we couldn't if we started pointing fingers at each other.
"To go back to back to back to back, that will never happen again. Nope. Period. The further we're removed from those games, the more people appreciate what we did. And it started with our head coach, Marv Levy."
taggedAndre Reed | Bruce Smith | Darryl Talley | Jim Kelly | Marv Levy | Steve Tasker | Thurman Thomas