INDIANAPOLIS -- The thought of Frank Reich one day being a head coach never crossed the mind of former Buffalo coach Marv Levy when Reich was playing quarterback during their nine seasons together with the Bills.
That’s understandable when you consider Reich waited 10 years after he retired from playing in the NFL to get into coaching. It wasn't until Levy attended one of the Indianapolis Colts’ offseason workouts when Reich was on staff and working with the quarterbacks that Levy noticed a person with tools necessary to be a head coach.
“He was working with Peyton [Manning] and as I watched I noticed how good of a teacher he was and how on top of it he was with things,” Levy told ESPN. “Every time I studied Frank, the more and more I thought, 'This guy has it.' I thought he has [coaching traits] for so many reasons.”
Reich is about to join the Colts again, this time as head coach. The team announced his hire on Sunday afternoon after he spent the past two seasons as offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. Reich’s introductory news conference is scheduled for Tuesday.
The 92-year-old Levy, who coached Buffalo to four straight Super Bowl appearances, said he put in a word of recommendation for Reich -- who is a first-time head coach after coaching stops with Indianapolis, Arizona, the Chargers and Philadelphia -- with the Colts.
“I was pulling very hard for him to get the job,” Levy said. “This guy is not only a great teacher and coach, he’s such a great guy that he’ll work so well with everybody in the organization. He’s a high-character individual. He will study like you can’t believe and his preparation will be incredible. I’m thrilled that he is there.”
Reich is going from winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles to a rebuilding team in Indianapolis. The Colts haven’t had a winning record since 2014, have missed the playoffs the past three straight seasons, have a poor offensive line, holes on a defense that finished 30th in the NFL last season and uncertainty surrounding the health of quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder).
That’s not an easy task, but it’s a task Reich can handle, according to Levy.
“I always said there are three qualities of every successful coach,” said Levy, who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “The ability to teach, the ability to convey, ability to get across your message, have people buy in and understand. It doesn’t have to do with your personality. Great coaches have varying personalities.
“You also have to have the ability to work well with others. It’s the whole organization that wins. Any egotistical person who thinks it’s about him is not going to have success. The third thing is you have to be a straight shooter with the players in your organization. Care about the people you work with. That’s a huge oversimplification, but that would be my take on it and Frank has all those qualities to do a good job in Indianapolis.”