“Things were so bad the players had to bring their own toilet paper,” Levy said. “At Christmas time, I gift-wrapped a role of toilet paper for everyone in the organization.”
Before Marv Levy led the Buffalo Bills to four-consecutive Super Bowls, he was the head coach of the USFL’s Blitz in his hometown of Chicago.
While Levy coached the Blitz for only one year, the seeds were planted for what would become a monumental playoff run by the Buffalo Bills during the late-1980s into the mid-1990s.
After leaving the Chiefs in 1982, Levy took a TV job with ABC covering the USFL for the 1983 season. Before the start of the 1984 season, the Chicago Blitz and Arizona Wranglers swapped franchises -- players and coaches included.
Levy was unaware that the position was available because the legendary George Allen was coaching the team after leading the Blitz to the playoffs the year before. “Out of the blue I received a call from the new general manager of the Chicago Blitz, Ron Potocnik,” Levy said, who was Allen’s special teams coach for the Rams in 1970 and the Redskins in 1971 and 1972. “Potocnik told me, ‘The entire franchise (Blitz) is moving to Arizona and we want you to coach.’”
Allen shipped his playoff team to Phoenix, while Levy was left with an empty cup-hoard. “After I was at work I realized the entire roster was swapped,” Levy said, from his Chicago home in November 2005. “I inherited a team that was 4-14, instead of the playoff team that went to Arizona.” Levy’s bunch went 5-13 in the 1984, averaging a little more than 7,400 fans per game – down from the 18,133 the year before.
Unfortunately for Levy, Allen’s Arizona Wranglers went to the USFL Championship with the ’83 Blitz squad. “The franchise was very promising, but when the players moved, the talent level was way down,” Levy said.
In that bizarre year, Blitz owner Dr. Jim Hoffman left the team. “He just walked away in training camp,” Levy said laughingly. “We had to run things on a shoe-string budget.”
The league was forced to run the franchise during that lame-duck year. “Things were so bad the players had to bring their own toilet paper,” Levy said. “At Christmas time, I gift-wrapped a role of toilet paper for everyone in the organization.”