TAMPA, JAN. 25 -- This typifies Buffalo Coach Marv Levy: Knowing that he would incur the wrath of the media and a probable fine from the league, Levy skipped a scheduled news conference with reporters on Tuesday. The reason, he said, was that it took time away from his job -- coaching.

He didn't care what people thought, or would do.

That's Levy, no time to step away from the chalkboard.

"I've been coaching 40 years and this is the game I've been preparing for all my life and I'm not going to cut a corner on it," Levy said about Sunday's Super Bowl against the New York Giants.

This typifies Giants Coach Bill Parcells: The week before the playoff game against Chicago, Parcells challenged his players, asking if they had what it takes to beat the Bears. It didn't matter that New York was 13-3. New York might has well been 3-13.

That's him, the mind games expert. The motivator. The challenger.

"We were all shaking our heads," said Giants tackle William Roberts. "New Orleans was 8-8 going {into the playoffs} and they were partying. We were 13-3 and we were all walking around mad."

The two teams taking the field in Super Bowl XXV will have drastically different, yet extremely effective, leaders. Parcells, while also a talented strategist, is an all-pro at dealing with the emotional aspect of football players. "He knows the perfect thing to say to you and the perfect time to say it," said Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

Levy is a former Harvard Law school student who dropped out after several weeks because his desire to coach was stronger than his desire to litigate. He is known to be obsessive about preparing for a game, with that obsession even going beyond the normal paranoid realm of most head coaches. He is a tactician, a football scientist with a sense of humor.

He denies any obsession regarding preparation, but admitted that for most of the week he was up at about 4 a.m. studying the game plan. Levy's approach to game preparation, he said, is mostly his own. No one taught him to get up at four in the morning and look at game film.

Yet one of his favorite football quotes is from the legendary Knute Rockne, who once said, "The will to prepare is every bit as important as the will to win."

"Do I think I'm uptight?" Levy said, "I {was} uptight before our scrimmage at Edinboro against the Browns' rookies when we had it back in July. But I don't think I'm uptight otherwise."

When asked if he thought he was completely consumed by his job, Levy responded: "I think you'd better be somewhat consumed, at a very high level of intensity, when the competition is so keen. I don't think I'm consumed. I think I'm adequately involved in the game. I think it's important to make the game important because the players know it's important."

"He's definitely one of those guys that lives football," said Bills defensive end Bruce Smith. "There may be a lot of coaches that do that, I don't know. But I'd be surprised if anyone lived it more than he does."

Levy has a conservative reputation despite orchestrating the free-wheeling no-huddle offense. He loves running the ball and despises fancy offensive schemes.

When he was coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 1977 to 1982, Levy employed the wing-T formation, which was the equivalent of driving a Model T in the Indy 500. As a coach in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes, his team ran, ran, ran.

"My feeling is that you should try and stick to the basics as much as possible," he said. "And I think you could say that it has worked so far."

Much has worked for Parcells as well. His record as the Giants' head coach, including playoffs, is 84-52-1. He has one Super Bowl victory. But his ability to motivate players and make them perform at their peak is what makes him special.

"He keeps you off balance," said defensive end Leonard Marshall. "He never gives you what you want to hear.

"He knows how to cross the line between being passive and being aggressive. He has a great bearing on the players. The players like him. They generally believe in him and they believe in the system. They get {angry} at him, because he plays the little mind games and the younger guys don't know what's going on. But that is what makes him good. He knows how to motivate the team and get them ready to play. You've got to like a guy like that.

" . . . I'm not going to use the word genius because he doesn't like that word. Bill is a very good motivator. He's a politician in the locker room -- patting players on the back, pulling up a chair to talk about maybe a personal problem, working the room as if he was running for senator.

"I don't want people to think the inmates are running the asylum or anything," he said. "I just think it's good business. I had coaches who were coaching me who used to ask me what I thought. I mean, this isn't a dictatorship, except when it comes to curfews and other things."

And sometimes he can be downright mean. Cornerback Everson Walls said that recently Parcells screamed at him, saying that Walls was bad at picking up receivers off the line of scrimmage.

"He said I was the worst guy in the league at jamming guys off the line," said Walls. "So I had to defend myself right there on the field."

Walls, a 10-year veteran, added: "I know what he's trying to do. So it really doesn't bother me as much."