The passing of Bills founder and owner Ralph Wilson Tuesday led to an awful lot of sadness throughout the Bills family. One of the men that helped to bring him the most success in team history was also one of his closest friends in Hall of Fame head coach Marv Levy. Levy shared his thoughts on the man he worked for 12 years as a head coach and a few more as a general manager.
“He wasn’t my boss. He was my friend,” said Levy. “He was a magnificent guy to work with. I’m deeply saddened to hear of his passing. He meant so much to the game that both of us revered and to the community of Buffalo and beyond.”
Levy and Wilson had a unique relationship that was far different from most of the coach-owner relationship in the league then and now.
“I truly enjoyed getting together with him. If we went to the league meetings we would go out to dinner together or have breakfast together. He was fun to be with,” Levy said. “We shared interest in many things and certainly the game of football. He was a unique man to work for in that he would strongly express his opinions and he would really listen even if you had a contrary opinion.
“I could remember once he wanted me to replace an assistant coach on the staff and I thought it was so wrong to do in that case and I persisted and I wondered if I was putting myself under the gun and finally at the end he said, ‘Ah I still don’t agree with you, but you’re the coach.’ And a few years later he liked the guy.”
“He was fun to be with and players would tell you that. Almost every time he’d come to practice he would exchange jibes with the players, particularly Thurman, but certainly others too who weren’t reticent about doing that with the owner.”
Levy said since the day he retired from football he made a point to call Mr. Wilson every month to check in, but he sensed the Bills owner might be struggling with his health of late.
“I’d call him and on occasion he’d call me just to see how you were doing. I did this for all the years since I retired,” he said. “But about four or five months ago I began to detect that maybe he was struggling a bit to communicate and I spoke maybe a time or two more with Mary Wilson to see how he was doing, but it was about once a month we’d have a telephone conversation about nothing just to talk to each other.
“It’s quite a loss and he’s going to be remembered so fondly by everyone who knew him.”
Tags: Marv Levy, Ralph Wilson
Posted in Inside the Bills