PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WIVB) — Coach Sean McDermott has looked up to Marv Levy from an early age in his football career, and now in his ascent on the Bills’ all-time coaching victories list. Speaking before the start of Thursday’s training camp practice, McDermott made special mention to wish his Hall of Fame predecessor a happy 98th birthday.
“Incredible,” McDermott told the media gathering at St. John Fisher University. “What a legend, in more ways than one. My thoughts are with him and his family. Hopefully we’ll see him soon.”
McDermott commended Levy, the oldest living member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, for being “all class” in mentoring the current coach, who has a 62-35 record with three AFC East division championships since coming to Buffalo in 2017. Levy went 112-70 in 12 seasons from 1986-97, leading the Bills to six division titles and four Super Bowl appearances.
“He’s been extremely open and extremely friendly in his approach,” McDermott said. “Sometimes coaches don’t pull for the coaches that follow them. He’s done nothing but pull for us, pull for me, and support our staff and what we are trying to get done here. So I couldn’t be more grateful.”
McDermott recalled his first meeting with Levy at the NFL scouting combine in 2006. At the time, McDermott was a 31-year-old position coach for the Eagles, and Levy at 80 had recently returned to the Bills as a general manager.
“I’m jogging on the treadmill in the weight room,” McDermott said, “and who gets up on the elliptical next to me but Coach Levy.”
For any coach, let alone a young coach at the time, and someone who has a shared experience at William & Mary, just his persona, the legend, it precedes him,” McDermott continued. “I’m jogging on the treadmill and here is the legend right besides me. It’s kind of a surreal moment.”
McDermott studied the legend through his meetings with some of the Bills’ greatest players coached by Levy. That continued, McDermott said, on Thursday morning in conversations with Steve Tasker and Darryl Talley.
“He was the right coach for the right team,” McDermott said. “He did things the right way and he still does, that’s why I have so much respect for him.”
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.