"He always has this positive outlook," she said. "From Day One as a coach, he didn't dwell on the negative. He can look beyond that and understand why football people act the way they do. He has spent his life understanding these people."
But his family -- and occasionally his players -- has seen the darker side of Marchibroda.
"One thing that really agitates him is when guys don't work hard," Ted Jr. said. "That sets him off, because he really does have a short fuse."
He has erupted on the field. A couple of years ago, Marchibroda overturned a Gatorade table after a loss to the Washington Redskins. After a loss to the New York Jets, Marchibroda ripped his Indianapolis team so badly that Harbaugh said he never had seen anything like it. And Harbaugh played for Mike Ditka.
Then there was the tirade the first year he was with the Baltimore Colts.
"We weren't practicing hard," said Marchibroda, "and I knew if I didn't do something, I was going to lose this team. You know, I don't believe you have to be a tough guy 24 hours a day. One of the biggest mistakes in coaching is that coaches don't know when to keep quiet."
"There were a couple of times a year Ted would grab your attention," said ex-Colts quarterback Bert Jones. "There is a slight misconception about Ted being this nice guy. He has always maintained a gentlemanly approach, but he was always disciplined and demanding. It had nothing to do with your personalities. You worked hard or Ted would jump all over you."
"If your team is working hard and producing, you don't have to say anything," Marchibroda said. "I don't like to come down on players often, but when I do, there is a purpose and a reason. I can use that kind of language. I grew up in a pool hall."
Marchibroda actually grew up in Franklin, Pa., in the northwestern part of the state. His parents were Polish immigrants, and his father worked in a steel mill.
That's where Marchibroda inherited the work ethic.
"I remember, after we went 10-4 that first year in Baltimore, people asked me what I was going to do for an encore," said Marchibroda. "Nobody ever asked my parents what they were going to do for an encore. Whatever we've accomplished pales in comparison to what they did, especially the way my father worked."
Marchibroda's father is on a short list of those he admires. Some others: Abe Gibron and Bucko Kilroy, fellow assistant coaches when Marchibroda began coaching with the Redskins in 1961. He picked up the easygoing manner from Los Angeles Dodgers manager Walter Alston and learned the X's and O's from George Allen as an assistant under him with the Rams and Redskins.
"The Dodgers would win all those pennants, and you'd never know who the manager was," said Marchibroda. "Those fiery managers and coaches take away from the players.
"From George Allen, I learned organization and how to work and how to work on the right things. There is a difference."
There is never a wasted moment at Marchibroda's practices, which last about two hours. There is constant motion and always thorough teaching. Marchibroda never intrudes during position drills, but when it's time for the offense to come together, he runs the show.
"Ted is very organized, but practices are not overly structured," said Mike Sheppard, the team's receivers coach. "He is great at allowing all of us to have input, and it's rewarding when he allows you to coach. I think there is a great deal of respect for
him throughout the league."
Marchibroda's trademark is working with quarterbacks. A former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Marchibroda helped to develop Sonny Jurgenson, Roman Gabriel, Jim Kelly, Jones and Harbaugh.
Marchibroda's favorite quarterback?
"Jurgenson was the best pure passer, Roman Gabriel was the hardest-working quarterback and Bert Jones did more for his club than anybody else," said Marchibroda.
Marchibroda's next project is Vinny Testaverde, who, at the age of 32, should be in his prime.
"Ted, if nothing else, would coach quarterbacks. he recognized the quarterback as being paramount to the performance of the )) team," said Jones. "He is with you all the time; that's always the case. He always wants to know what you're thinking, and he wants you to know what he is thinking. He wants you on the same page."
Marchibroda also designed the Bills' no-huddle offense, which led Buffalo to Super Bowl appearances in 1990 and 1991. The Bills scored more than 400 points each season from 1989 through 1991, gaining 362 yards per game.
"Ted, as a contributor, I almost can't quantify," said Marv Levy, Marchibroda's former boss in Buffalo. "He's smart, levelheaded and tough-minded. He has experience and can take heat when necessary. His contributions here, well, there are no words for that."
And now, in an old home with a new team, Marchibroda is contributing once again.
Pub Date: 8/31/96
The Marchibroda file