"Is our goal to win?" Levy asks. "No!" he bellows. "Our goal is to develop our team, to earn what we get, to learn, to develop unselfish attitudes. If we achieve that, the result is that we'll win."
He finishes to polite applause. He says the things that the great teaching coaches say—men like John Wooden, who almost never used the word win when talking to his UCLA basketball squads. Do what you are supposed to do, and success will follow. But do not blindly pursue success. It is an almost Zen-like directive, a circular and elusive one, and it is one that does not wildly stimulate eager fans.
Later Fran Levy will wonder about Marv's speech to the boosters. She sat quietly and listened to it all, and when he asked her afterward, "Did it sound like a lecture?" she said. "Yes, it did."
She met Marv when he was coaching the Blitz. She was a secretary and lived in suburban Des Plaines, near the high school field where the Blitz practiced. Fran and Marv were married in February 1993, both for the second time. Fran knew nothing about football, but she rejoiced at her bonding with a man she describes as private, even-keeled, happy "and so cute." But she thinks that a lot of people don't appreciate him for the good man he is. She knows they don't appreciate his speeches. She says, "I wanted to tell him, 'Don't say that. People won't understand the part about achieving this and this and then it leads to this." They will probably say, 'Yeah, that's just what we thought—you don't want to win a Super Bowl!' "
No. 1. "Hey, fellas, more fudge?"
Marv Levy has no children of his own, though Fran has a 26-year-old daughter, Kimberly, to whom the coach freely offers advice. Before Kimberly went on a vacation to Las Vegas, Marv, dusting off an old one, asked her if she'd heard about the man who drove there in a $20,000 Pontiac. "I thought, Uh-oh, a long story," recalls Fran. "Then he says, 'Yeah, he came home in a half-million-dollar Greyhound bus." "
"He is a very happy man," Fran says. "He can sing the words to every college fight song ever written. He sings when he's shaving and in the car. He can go on and on." But there was that time last spring when they were driving through Washington, D.C., and Marv had been cranky about little things, and Fran wondered what was wrong. There was a button he couldn't button, a bridge they missed, a traffic jam they got stuck in. "I finally stopped him and said, 'You're so mad. Why? Are you unhappy in the marriage? I'm never going on a vacation with you again. We used to have so much fun.' "
The coach looked at his wife for a moment and then said, "Did you ever think I might be frustrated over the loss of the last four Super Bowls?"
Saying that seemed to cure him of his mourning. He became Teacher Marv once more, but Fran is now plagued by a severe case of the what-ifs. "I get angry that the players didn't win a Super Bowl for him" she states. "I told him he should get mad at them and tell them, "You should have won for me! You let me down!' " She sighs and smiles, amused at and proud of his response. "He said, 'Never!' The thought of it amazed him."
Not long after she made her suggestions, Marv Levy came to his beloved bride and said, "Franny, don't tell me how to coach."