Book Excerpt: Marv Levy’s ‘Between the Lies’
August 30, 2011 10:22PM
Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy (with the Bills in 1997) offers a fictional take on football in Between the Lies. | AP
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:30AM
Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy, who took the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls — and lost four consecutive times — has written a novel called Between the Lies , in which the Super Bowl is rigged. This week, the Sun-Times will run excerpts of the book. Today, Chapter 25 is featured.
Throughout the football
season that just ended,
Cedric B. had constantly railed that his team’s approach was ‘‘too damn conservative.’’ He rid himself, and anyone else who might have concurred, of that impression in a hurry. As astonished as the players, media and fans had been over the Tuesday announcement that Bobby Russell had been fired, no one was prepared for the bombshell that Cedric B. dropped on Wednesday.
Again, it was press conference time. Cedric B., Brant, and Randy Dolbermeier were there. Randy was wearing a Leopards cap, a Leopards necktie and a mile-wide smile.
Bert Scott introduced Brant, who, after some brief words of welcome, segued into his presentation of Cedric B.
‘‘Hello, everyone,’’ Cedric B. beamed. ‘‘I’m here to proudly announce that the new head coach of the Los Angeles Leopards is sitting here on this platform with me. Randy Dolbermeier will be taking over that responsibility. This begins a new era for the Leopards, one about which I am confident and excited. Are there any questions?’’
There were plenty.
‘‘Mr. Medill, apparently you didn’t interview any other people besides Coach Dolbermeier for the job,’’ Dorothy ‘‘Dot’’ Kahm of the Marina Del Rey Seafarer said. ‘‘Is that true, and, if so, how come?’’
‘‘I have been extremely impressed by Randy’s coaching abilities and by his coaching style,’’ Cedric B. answered. ‘‘Why look around all over the place when you have the right man, right here?’’
‘‘Had this been your intent even before the season ended?’’ Abby Westminster of The Malibu Mermaid asked.
‘‘It is our policy to wait until the end of a season in order to evaluate and to review all such matters,’’ Cedric B. answered. ‘‘That is what we did on Monday, and as our discussions progressed I reached the conclusion that this was the new direction in which I wanted our team to be going.’’
‘‘Then it actually wasn’t until Monday that you decided to replace Coach Russell?’’
‘‘Please, we dealt with all of that yesterday. I do not want to continue to dwell on the past. We are primed now to move forward, and I am excited about what lies ahead.’’
More of the same followed, until Bert Scott, with his acute sense of timing, interceded, thereby satisfying both the writers who were becoming restless waiting to hear from Dolbermeier, and Cedric B., who felt he had fulfilled his mission and who was on the brink of exhausting his supply of evasive responses.
‘‘I’m sure you’d all like to hear now from Randy,’’ Bert said. He was right. Randy kicked off with the wind at his back.
‘‘I am honored and grateful to Mr. Medill, and I want all of you to know that I am going to do everything it takes to reward him for the confidence he has shown in me.’’
“What will it take?” Westminster asked.
‘‘Win! Win! Win! That’s what.’’
‘‘What’s the formula for that?’’
‘‘Anything it takes. We aren’t going to sit back and hope good things happen. We’re going to damn well make them happen.’’
The next question was from Stubby Whitmore of The Culver City Courier. ‘‘Can we expect any changes in the team’s style of offense and defense?’’
‘‘Hey, Stubby, can I expect you to change your socks and underwear every day? My answer is the same as yours, buddy — I hope.’’ Cedric B., still sitting on the platform, slapped his hands onto his knees, smiled, closed his eyes, and then shook his head slowly from side
‘‘You are going to see changes, big-time,’’ Randy continued.
‘‘Like what?’’ Stubby asked.
‘‘I’ll tell you like what,’’ Randy said. “We’re going after ’em. We’re going to air it out. I want the fans to send in diagrams of trick plays. Each week we’ll select one of them and then find a way to use it during the game. That’ll be fun, won’t it? Fourth and one? Look out. Punting is for sissies. We’re going for it, baby. On defense, we’re coming. We’re going after their quarterback’s ass. I want players who will do whatever it takes to win, and I’ll damn well show them what that is. I told all of this to Mr. Medill already, and he was so fired up that I thought about using him on our kickoff coverage team, but he wanted too big of a contract.’’
‘‘What are your plans at quarterback?’’ Olivia Oberlin of The Orange County Oracle asked.
‘‘Q.T. Pye is my guy. We’ll continue to develop Toby Eggleston as his backup. He’s a promising young player. Colby Hollister is getting older, and so we’ll bring a fourth quarterback to camp to compete with him. There, does that sound as if I’m willing to make some hard decisions, or what?’’
‘‘What if Q.T. flops?’’
‘‘He won’t. I’ll see to that.’’
Randy kept them revved up, and he kept them laughing. Some laughed with him, and some at him. Many of the writers were charmed and fascinated by this brazen new personality at the helm. Jordy Nerdmann was one of them. Several of the writers were turned off by what they felt was Randy’s overbearing self-centeredness. Mel Herbert was one of them.
Despite the negative impressions that Mel was harboring, he restrained himself from being one of those types that comes out hammering even before a man has been on the job for one full day. Time and events will guide me, Mel felt. In his column the next day he directed some comments, instead, to a matter that was being pushed aside as a result of the frenzied interest inspired by Dolbermeier’s arrival as the new head coach of the Leopards.
What about Bobby Russell, Mel pondered. Had he been the victim of a raw deal? Mel summed up his reflections on that subject by concluding his account of the unfolding drama with some of his signature verse:
Is Bobby Russell one of those fools Who paid the price for living by the rules? He was honest, hard working, and easy to approach. He loved the game and was a real good coach. His teams held their own against odds that were long, And I really can’t see that he did anything wrong. His players were eager and prepared for the tussle. They learned from and responded to Coach Bobby Russell. His teams fought hard; they were in every game, But one morning he was fired, and it’s really a shame. We asked them why, and heard that old deflection That it’s time for us to go in a different direction. Bobby is a man whom I’ll venture to say That someday they’ll regret that they sent him away.
Who paid the price for living by the rules?
He was honest, hard working, and easy to approach.
He loved the game and was a real good coach.
His teams held their own against odds that were long,
And I really can’t see that he did anything wrong.
His players were eager and prepared for the tussle.
They learned from and responded to Coach Bobby Russell.
His teams fought hard; they were in every game,
But one morning he was fired, and it’s really a shame.
We asked them why, and heard that old deflection
That it’s time for us to go in a different direction.
Bobby is a man whom I’ll venture to say
That someday they’ll regret that they sent him away.
Between the Lies will be in bookstores nationally in mid-September and is currently
available at amazon.com or ascendbooks.com.