Today’s Marv Levy’s 95th birthday, and I was reminded by Greg Bauch on Twitter about a tape editing prank I did 25+ years ago.
Marv left a message for Howard Simon on the WBEN Sports voicemail along the lines of… “Hi Howard, it’s Marv Levy with the Bills, please give me a call back at 648-1800. Thanks.”
I edited out the “Howard” and left that on dozens of other people’s voicemails and answering machines. At least one friend forwarded it on to other people’s voicemails as well.
Listen to the actual message below:
The editing isn’t perfect, but it was also done before the days of digital editing. This was done with a grease pencil, a razor blade and Scotch tape– which, if I do say so myself, makes it even more incredible.
The NFL of 25 years ago was completely different. The Buffalo Bills were great and the New England Patriots were terrible.
Buffalo had been to four straight Super Bowls, and New England, under second year quarterback Drew Bledsoe, was in the midst of the team’s first winning season in seven years.
Facilities were different, too. When the Bills eked out a 38-35 win at old Foxboro Stadium in 1994, there was no room with a table, microphone and a logo backdrop for Marv Levy’s postgame press conference. It happened only a few feet away from the stands, separated by a tarp-covered chain-link fence.
If it had happened today, one fan’s heckling of Marv Levy on that day would have gone viral.
Instead, it remained mostly an inside joke among the reporters who were there at the press conference as well as a teen radio producer who was recording the press conference for use on the Buffalo Bills Radio Network.
Only weeks removed from the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, I hit record as I listened to the feed from New England as a Patriots fan accused Levy of being involved in the slayings. He then moved onto pointing out the Bills’ Super Bowl losses.
“Marv’s a loser,” screamed the man with a thickly barnacled New England accent, sounding more like “Maav’s a loosah!”
“0 for 4, you’re a joke,” he continued, referring to the string of championship game losses.
Throughout my years as a sports talk show producer in the ’90s and 2000s, I would use pieces of the clip on the air – especially the throaty ranting, “Marv’s a loser” – more to make the host laugh, than to entertain listeners.
With Bulldog on WBEN and later Mike Schopp and Howard Simon on WNSA, I’d occasionally play the clip in reference to the serene nature of Boston sports fans. Later, working at Channel 4, I was excited that videographer Jeff Helmick had captured the event, and that producer Mike Courtney had saved it on the station’s file tape.
Howard Simon can be seen on the video, and in a longer version of the audio, the current Voice of the Bills John Murphy can be heard asking, “Hey Buddy, can you quiet down?”
The screaming fan was escorted away from the fence before Levy even showed up for the press conference. Drew Bledsoe lead the Patriots to a playoff berth that season, while the Bills went 7-9.