Before he became a Hall of Fame coach, Marv Levy was in Marc Trestman's shoes. The head coach of the Montreal Alouettes, and a candidate for an NFL head coaching job.
''The similarities are remarkable,'' Levy said. ''We were both assistants in the NFL first. We both went to Canada. We both appeared in three Grey Cups and both won two of them.
''I know Marc a little bit. I stay in touch with the Alouettes and I have very high regard for him.''
Levy coached the Alouettes from 1973-77. After winning his second Grey Cup in 1977, he was hired to coach the Kansas City Chiefs in 1978. He was fired after going 31-42 in five years at Kansas City -- a move owner Lamar Hunt later acknowledged was a mistake. Levy was hired by the Buffalo Bills in 1986 and had a glorious 11-year run that included four AFC Championships.
Levy, a South Shore product who at 87 still lives on the city's North Side, said the transition from the CFL to the NFL was no factor. On the contrary, the head coaching opportunity enhanced his coaching ability.
''The general manager of the Alouettes told me that when I went to Canada, I could have 12 men on the [field]. Then I found out the other teams could, too,'' Levy said with a chuckle. ''The same things win. It isn't the Wildcat offense or this or that. If you run, throw, block, tackle, catch and kick better than your opponent -- the fundamentals.''
Levy said both Trestman and Tom Clements -- a former CFL star quarterback with Ottawa when Levy was with the Alouettes -- are good head coaching candidates. The three of them have more in common than a CFL background. Trestman and Clements both have law degrees. Levy has a masters degree from Harvard.
''[Trestman] invited me one year to come up to training camp to talk to the players,'' Levy said. ''I knew him by reputation in the NFL as an assistant, a good one. I felt he did a very good job.
''I always say, every good coach has three qualities and [he has them]: 1) the ability to teach; 2) to work with others in the organization -- that is so important; and 3) to be a straight-shooter. Not [doing] a lot of things that aren't really reflective of your personality. Not a lot of lying to your players to rev them up.''
Levy is even more familiar with Clements, whose only NFL playing experience was with the Chiefs and Levy in 1980.
''I've followed his coaching career closely,'' Levy said. ''He's bright. He teaches well. He's a high-character guy. He's got it all. I"m stunned that he hasn't gotten a head coaching job.
''He's not a self-promoter. He has a fantastic work ethic. A cooperative guy. I'm high on both those guys [Clements and Trestman].''