ST-JEAN-SUR-RICHELIEU, Que. — As a first-year CFL coach, Marc Trestman likely couldn’t find a better mentor than legendary coach Marv Levy.
The 82-year-old Levy visited the Alouettes training camp on Wednesday, partly to give a pep talk to the players but mainly to chat with Trestman.
Levy coached the Alouettes from 1973 to 1978, taking them to three Grey Cup games and winning two of them, before embarking on his Hall of Fame career in the NFL with Kansas City and Buffalo.
Like Levy 35 years ago, Trestman comes into the league with no previous experience in Canadian football.
"Part of the reason I came down was to tell him what it was like for me," said Levy, who resigned as general manager of the Bills in January. "I learned a lot from our players, believe it or not, during that period.
"Listen to them. Don’t feel you have to be an autocrat when you come in, although I won’t tell someone to coach different than what their personality might be. Just come on in and stay alert, learn, work well with others in the organization. That’s what sustained me in the early times."
Levy joined the team on the field at the end of practice for a few words and was to address the team again later in the day. He was also to be honoured at the team’s alumni dinner on Wednesday night and is to attend the Als’ pre-season opener against the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday night.
Trestman said he had met Levy briefly a few times in the past, and had spoken to him recently on the phone.
"One of my objectives for training camp and as a staff was to tie the present to the past and the future," said Trestman. "I think we get that with Marv being here.
"He can talk a little bit about his history with the Alouettes and maybe set the tone for where we want to go as a team and as an organization. He’s that powerful a speaker.".
Levy still has ties to the Alouettes and keeps track of how they’re doing. He stays in touch with team vice-president Richard Blais, with whom he worked in the 1970s. Als president Larry Smith was a player on Levy’s team.
Blais invited Levy to camp so he could share his experience with Trestman.
"I had heard a lot about Marc Trestman before," said Levy. "It sounded intriguing.
"I don’t really know him. He has a good reputation as a coach."