INDIANAPOLIS —Few people, if any, have a better perspective of Frank Reich's abilities than Marv Levy.
Levy, who led the Buffalo Bills to six divisional titles and four Super Bowl appearances from 1986 through 1997, was Reich's head coach for nine seasons, all of which featuring Reich as the team's trusty backup quarterback.
So recently, the 92-year-old Levy, without Reich's knowledge, decided to write a letter to Colts owner Jim Irsay and general manager Chris Ballard, recommending Reich, who had just won a Super Bowl as the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator, to be Indy's next head coach.
"He was outstanding," Levy said of Reich on Tuesday to Colts.com's Matt Taylor. "He was one of the unique guys I coached during 47 years of coaching. I'd been campaigning for him to be a head coach, because I thought he'd be wonderful, and I followed his assistant coaching career throughout his career, too, and it had been excellent."
So just what, exactly, did this Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach have to say to Irsay and Ballard about his beloved former player? Levy provided Colts.com the spoken version of his letter:
*Talking about Frank Reich, who was backup quarterback to Hall of Famer Jim Kelly during almost my entire 12 years as coach of the Buffalo Bills: during my 47-year-long coaching career, there was never anyone who prepared more assiduously than Frank. Ask Jim Kelly about that. Jim has told me that often, and he has often commented he would have never been the great player and person, too, that he was had it not been for Frank Reich.
As you probably know/are aware, it was Frank Reich during the playoffs in 1992 who led the greatest comeback in NFL history. Jim Kelly, along with running back Thurman Thomas and Cornelius Bennett, were all injured and out of the lineup. Early in the third quarter we trailed the Oilers 35-3, and Frank led us back to that 41-38 overtime victory that propelled our Wild Card team to the next game, on the road against Pittsburgh. Frank led us to victory in that game, too, and to our eventual making it to that year's Super Bowl game as AFC champs.
By the way, it was Frank Reich — again as a backup quarterback — in college, this time to an injured and out Boomer Esiason at the U. of Maryland, who led the greatest comeback in college football history, when Maryland came back to defeat the U. of Miami in the Orange Bowl game. Boomer, too, has often commented to me about how wonderfully his association with Frank has impacted him both professionally and personally.
Fast forward: Frank Reich's playing days are over; he is hired as the quarterback coach with the Colts. The Colts have a young quarterback named Peyton Manning — you know the rest of that story. Peyton, too, on many occasions at Pro Football Hall of Fame events has spoken to me about what a fantastic coach Frank was in coaching him and helping him to become the player he had hoped to be.
A few years later Frank had moved on, now the QB coach with the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers drafted rookie Philip Rivers — lucky guy, because he would now be instructed by the Frank You-Know-Who that I've been talking about. And so Philip Rivers, too, now became a pretty — make that a very darned good NFL quarterback.
Then new Eagles coach Doug Pederson really likes Frank Reich; hires him to be the Eagles' offensive coordinator. It is Frank Reich who crafts the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive schemes and player instructions. It is Frank Reich who steers rookie quarterback Carson Wentz so swiftly through his early development as an NFL quarterback. And when Wentz, unfortunately, is injured, Frank Reich does a magnificent job of resurrecting the performance level of Nick Foles, whom almost everyone else in the league thought was no longer capable. Yes, Nick Foles was very deservingly anointed as the MVP in this year's Super Bowl game, and I truly believe that Frank Reich is the coaching MVP of this year's NFL season and beyond.
And in addition to all of Frank's tremendous coaching abilities, I feel compelled to mention, also, he's a man of sterling character, a great family guy, a great teammate, a great citizen, a person who works amazingly well with everyone in a team's organization, with all the players for whom he is responsible for instructing. It matters both on and off the field.
Frank Reich should be hired as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. As you can see, I am campaigning hard, without any of his knowledge that I am doing so for that to happen. If it comes to pass, it will not only be a wonderful happening for Frank, but it'd be a wonderful happening for the team and for the fans of that team that hires him.
Finally, I do apologize for imposing upon your always busy schedules, for being so long-winded. But, then again, now that the NFL is over, I ain't got nothing else to do.*
(A couple quick notes: Reich became Manning's quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis in 2009, Manning's 12th year in the league. He became Rivers' quarterbacks coach with the San Diego Chargers in 2013, Rivers' 10th year in the league. Also, the Chargers didn't draft Rivers; he was selected fourth-overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and then immediately traded to the Chargers. But you get the picture.)