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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Marv gets tapped

   Jan. 27, 2001 -- Marv Levy is still the only coach to guide a team to four straight Super Bowls. On this day, he received a major reward for that achievement.

   Levy was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mark Gaughan had the story for The News:

   Marv Levy's first big break in coaching came in 1958 when he took over at the University of New Mexico and became the youngest major-college coach in the country.

    By the time he retired from the Buffalo Bills at age 72 in 1997, he had equaled George Halas' record as the oldest man ever to serve as head coach in the NFL."Challenge my coaching accomplishments if you wish," Levy likes to say, "but my stamina, at least, defies criticism!"

    Neither Levy's stamina or his accomplishments could be denied Saturday, as he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with six other greats of the game.

    "There are a lot of emotions, and I can hardly sort them out," Levy said in the ballroom of the Tampa Convention Center after the announcement was made. "Gratitude is the main one, certainly to the board of selectors but to everybody who made it possible. That includes the Buffalo fans, who were such a part of the thrilling decade I spent there."

    Levy, 75, becomes the third member of the Bills' organization to enter the Hall, joining O.J. Simpson and Billy Shaw.

    He will be inducted into the Hall in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 4, along with the other members of the Class of 2001: offensive linemen Jackie Slater, Mike Munchak and Ron Yary, receiver Lynn Swann, linebacker Nick Buoniconti and defensive end Jack Youngblood. Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. was among the 15 finalists for the honor but did not make the cut. A minimum of four and a maximum of seven of the final 15 get elected. It takes approval from 31 out of 38 voters to get picked.

    Levy, of course, was the greatest Bills head coach ever and ranks as the 11th winningest coach in NFL history with a record of 154-120 (a percentage of .562). He was head coach for 11 seasons in Buffalo, five in Kansas City and five in Montreal of the Canadian league. He was an assistant coach in the NFL for four years and he coached in college 16 years before that.

    "When I heard my name, the names of thousands of people who I've known in 47 years of coaching flashed through my mind," Levy said. "I can't begin to name them all and thank everybody . . . beginning with Ralph Wilson, who I know will be standing here soon in a future year and is very deserving."

--- Budd Bailey

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