Chicago son and former Bills coach Marv Levy had that old winning feeling heading into Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the Bengals.
“Right now, I honestly feel the Bills probably are the best team in the league,” the 97-year-old Pro Football Hall of Famer said by phone from his Lincoln Park home. “But it doesn’t guarantee them anything.”
Alas, it didn’t help them a bit as they fell 27-10 in snowy Orchard Park, New York.
Only two teams were left in the playoffs that had never won a Super Bowl. Many fans would have loved to have seen the Bills — who lost four straight Super Bowls under Levy in the early 1990s — get off the schneid while winning one for Damar Hamlin, who was at the stadium Sunday for the first time since going into cardiac arrest during a game.
“I’m so glad to see he’s making such progress in his recovery,” Levy said.
Long-tormented fans in Buffalo have seen eight NFL teams — the Broncos, Rams, Ravens, Patriots, Buccaneers, Saints, Seahawks and Eagles — break the Super Bowl seal since the Levy-led heyday. Only 12 teams remain that have yet to win one, and now it’s the Bengals, instead of the Bills, carrying the flag for them all.
A long Bills playoff run would have been mighty enjoyable for Levy, who, a few months ago, had a late-night fall on the way from the bedroom to the bathroom, hit his head on a chair and required several stitches. His balance hasn’t been quite the same since, but, with physical therapy and the help of wife Fran — “my offensive coordinator,” he calls her — he’s coming back around.
And he still has much to play for.
“I’m fighting back,” he said. “You haven’t seen the last of me yet.”
He’ll keep watching the playoffs, too, even if it means rooting for Joe Burrow and the Bengals from here.
Bengals 31, Chiefs 23 next Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
And print it. . . .
Northwestern’s men’s basketball team postponed games at Iowa and at home against Wisconsin because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Predictably, this set off a cacophony of criticism from supporters of the Hawkeyes and Badgers, most of which was of the “Why is Northwestern still testing?” variety. But then there were those noodle-brained many who ripped the Wildcats for ducking the competition simply because they didn’t want to lose.
Sorry, hayseeds and cheeseheads, but your teams aren’t quite that terrifying. Also, if Northwestern called off every game it might lose, how would it ever play? . . .
Mike Brey will step down at the end of this season, his 23rd at Notre Dame. He made the Irish better, no doubt, and his warm, easygoing manner will really be missed. But he’s also correct that it’s time for someone else to take the reins. Once you trail off like Brey and the Irish have the last few seasons, it can be too hard to find your way back. . . .
My latest college basketball AP Top 25 ballot: 1. Purdue, 2. Alabama, 3. Houston, 4. Virginia, 5. UCLA, 6. Texas, 7. Tennessee, 8. Kansas State, 9. Arizona, 10. Iowa State, 11. TCU, 12. Kansas, 13. Auburn, 14. Gonzaga, 15. Xavier, 16. Clemson, 17. Baylor, 18. Miami, 19. UConn, 20. Marquette, 21. North Carolina, 22. Charleston, 23. New Mexico, 24. Kentucky, 25. Duke. . . .
Is the Sky’s Candace Parker really choosing between Chicago and Los Angeles in the dead of winter? That doesn’t seem fair at all. . . .
That sound you just heard was LeBron James creeping closer to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record. Give it two more weeks, and it’ll be a done deal — and “But he’s no Michael Jordan!” will get a bit less convincing.
THIS YOU GOTTA SEE
WBB: Iowa at Ohio State (6 p.m. Monday, ESPN2): Hawkeyes scoring machine Caitlin Clark is the best, most entertaining player in the country. The 19-0 Buckeyes might be the Big Ten’s strongest squad since Purdue won it all in 1999. Other than that, hey, nothing to see here.
Hawks at Bulls (7 p.m. Monday, NBCSCH): Can the Bulls pick up where they left off in Paris? And does Stacey King have any more “Oui, ouis!” to get out of his system after the excitable analyst said that approximately 8,000 times during Thursday’s telecast?
Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (9 p.m. Tuesday, HBO): In case you haven’t booed Brett Favre in a while, this segment on his alleged role in redirecting millions of dollars away from the poorest residents of Mississippi and to his own projects is for you.
ONLY BECAUSE YOU ASKED
From Charles, via email: “Your excellent column alerts us to what games to watch. Can I alert your readers on what not to watch? DePaul, Loyola and UIC.”
That’s cold, man, but I’ll allow it, especially because UIC has lost seven games in a row (but who’s counting?) and Loyola needed seven tries to finally win one stinkin’ game in the Atlantic 10. How about the Blue Demons ending a 22-game losing streak to Villanova and knocking off No. 8 Xavier lately, though?
THE BOTTOM FIVE
Shannon Sharpe: Did the FS1 yapper really think he could fight the entire Grizzlies squad in the middle of their game against the Lakers? And can we figure out how to send partner Skip Bayless into such a fray instead?
The Giants: In a pathetic effort against the Eagles, their nonexistent defense gave up 38 points. Or, as it’s known in the business, “half a Philadelphia 76er.”
Spring training: Feels like it should be here already, yet it’s still weeks away. Why must it taunt us so?
Australian Open: The matches are on too early here to watch them live, and the alternative — watching them on replay when you already know who won — is even worse. Hard pass.
Big Ten hoops: Should Purdue just pick up its championship trophy now, or would that be rude?