Marv Levy’s former players and colleagues are not the only ones claiming that the former Alouettes Head Coach deserves to be in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (CFHOF). You can also add former opponents to that list.
In locker rooms across Canada, teams had their games against Montreal circled on their calendars, and that was even truer in the province of Alberta.
“Montreal, they were tough for years. Coach Levy was definitely the main reason. I always felt like the Alouettes were going to give us a tough game. Those guys were well coached, really all the way around. They were a team we knew we had to prepare for,” explained Al Burleson, a former Calgary Stempeders defensive back from 1976 to 1981.
“Montreal had one of the top teams in the league. We knew that all the time when playing against Marv. They were the toughest team in the East that we had to prepare for. They were the team in the East that you wanted to beat,” he added.
One of the best
Burleson faced Levy’s teams in 1976 and 1977, and he had a front row seat to witness the effect he had on his players.
“He is definitely one of the best coaches out there, CFL and NFL. I could tell the respect he had from his players and I just knew from looking over at the sidelines. Being the quarterback of the defence, I’m always looking over at the signs, at the coaches,” recalled the 1979 CFL All-Star who finished that season with nine interceptions.
“He was always a cool collective type guy. I never saw him get out and get on people. He was more like a teacher coach, which some for some people works very well. The yelling coaches, they had their moment in history, but if you can get next to a player by respecting them and just by getting in their heads, those are the best type of coaches. I definitely heard that Marv was that kind of coach,” added the Seattle resident.
Burleson always remained close to football, even after his playing career. His son Nate played in the NFL and is now the co-host of Good Morning Football on NFL Network. His profound knowledge of the game leads him to only one conclusion.
“Marv definitely should be in the CFHOF. Personally I think he should already have been in the CFHOF. He is probably one of the top coaches that ever coached in the CFL as far as I am concerned,” said Burleson.
“In my seven years in the CFL, he should be in the top two coaches, and both of the two that I am thinking about should be hall of famers. The fellow Canadians know that. My son Nate was born up there when I was playing. I still love Canada and still have good friends up there and talk to some fairly often in Calgary. Let’s get Marv in!”
Following his collegiate career with the University of Washington Huskies, Burleson was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams and took part in their training camp before heading to Calgary.
Rarely had he witnessed something as intimidating than the crowds of over 50,000 at Olympic Stadium for Alouettes home games.
“I was at the Coliseum with the Rams (Capacity of more than 90,000 back then). But I hadn’t seen anything like that. It was intimidating,” remembered Burleson who played with Warren Moon at Washington.
“The crowd noise in the CFL it’s not like some football games where you get the cheering and the yelling. The Canadians really know how to get into a game. The crowd, the dressing up, the look, the pre-game, the party just before, that is intimidating,” he concluded.