Levy learned of his former player’s request while on the radio with Reed Thursday evening.
Having presented both Jim Kelly in 2002 and Thurman Thomas in 2007 Levy doesn’t feel like he’ll be any more prepared in putting together his comments for Reed, but he does appreciate the early notice. Being a natural writer, just having the opportunity to put together a presentation speech for Reed has him motivated to deliver a fitting tribute.
“I certainly have a degree of great insight and knowledge about him,” said Levy. “It’s inspiring for me and gets me excited to do it and I’m honored to do it. Also I savor the process, looking at reviewing the remarks I need to make. You have a very limited time to do it, but I’m very complemented and honored and pleased.”
Presenters only have three minutes to encapsulate a player’s career, and often times the presenter also wants to paint a balanced picture of the player and the person.
“With considerable time limitations it’s a challenge,” said Levy. “Winston Churchill once apologized for giving too long a speech. He said, ‘I didn’t have time to prepare a short one.’ To get in what you want to get with time limitations is a challenge, but nevertheless it’s one you have to rise up to and meet.”
Equipped with a degree in English literature and a master’s in English history from Harvard, Levy is diligent about his prose. So he intends to take the same amount of time in crafting his speech for Reed as he did for the receiver’s Hall of Fame teammates.
“The initial draft you can do in a few days giving it a couple of hours each day. Once that’s over the trying time comes when you need to tailor it down and include what’s important,” he said. “Then you have to decide what to eliminate from your original preparations. Those are the difficult parts.”
Levy said he’ll begin preparations in June knowing he’s the kind of speech writer who makes multiple revisions.
“Maybe after the first draft I’ll let it sit for three or four days and then go back at it and each day re-read it and I’ll find that I don’t like the way I expressed something exactly and come up with a better way of saying it.
“You want to get it right. You want to make a point. You don’t just tip the point. You’ve got to build up to it and surround it with things that bring it into focus, but make sure you’re focused on the point and on Andre Reed.”
Having been inducted himself Levy knows what the weekend will be like for Reed. Returning for Hall of Fame festivities to see his former receiver honored in the same way would’ve been enough. Being given the opportunity to present him will only enhance the experience for the Bills’ all-time winningest coach.
“It absolutely does enhance the experience without question,” Levy said. “Certainly if he had someone else close to him that he wanted to be his presenter I would fully and completely understand. I would still savor being there and would enjoy it. But yes, it is a twitch more exciting to be there. It’s like the difference between watching the game and being down on the field coaching the game.”