Canadian kicker Steve Christie had a brilliant NFL career, having his most successful stay with the Buffalo Bills as he helped the team reach two Super Bowls.
He still holds the record for longest field goal during the championship game, as he kicked a 54-yarder between the uprights against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XVIII.
Had Marv Levy not coached in the CFL with the Alouettes, Christie might have never ended up in the Niagara Peninsula.
“I was in Tampa for a couple of years before I signed in Buffalo. I called my dad and he was in Oakville (Ontario) at the time. I said, yeah dad it looks like I’m going to Buffalo, I got a call from Bill Polian (Bills General Manager and former Alouette scout),” the fromer William & Mary Tribesman recalled.
“My dad said: you know Marv coached in the CFL? That’s the first thing he said. And he went to William&Mary. I said: I know, that’s part of why I’m flying up right now. I’ll see you tomorrow. I’m signing. That was a part of it, the fact that he did have a connection up there and that he had success and that he coached at William&Mary,” he added.
Motivation and chemistry
The Hamilton, ON native watched the CFL growing up and is well aware of the challenges and adversity a CFL coach faces.
“Back in the seventies, we had a number of big name players from the United States. Joe Theisman, Warren Moon, Dieder Brock, and Tom Cousineau. There was a bunch of good players that could have played in the States. It’s hard to win up there, with rosters that are constantly changing,” analyzed Christie.
“As a head coach you’re dealing with guys who want to make it back in the NFL and that may not want to be there 100%. You’re motivating these guys to get together, to get this chemistry, to be successful and to win. And Marv did it twice? I think it’s astonishing!” he added.
A motivating coach
Special teams always had an important place in Marv’s heart. He was the instigator behind the rule change, which allowed players to block on punt returns in the CFL.
Christie had the chance to play under a coach who was particularly interested in what he was doing.
“He’s my favourite coach. He’s a teacher. He relates to the players well. He motivates. He trusted us. He treated everyone with respect until you lost that respect. We are lucky that he coached us. His quotes were great. He quoted Shakespeare and Churchill. Most coaches don’t talk like that,” concluded Christie who truly enjoys visiting Montreal and Quebec City.