Dan Reeves Passes Away

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NFL Week 17 - Dan Reeves, best known for coaching the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons to Super Bowl appearances, has passed away. He was 77.

Reeves played 100 games for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s and 1970s. His best season was in 1966, when he led the NFL with 16 touchdowns scored and finished in the top five in yards from scrimmage. He played in two Super Bowls for Dallas, including a 24-3 win over Miami in Super Bowl VI.

In 12 years as head coach of the Denver Broncos, Reeves went 110-73-1 and reached the Super Bowl three times in four years. He then went 31-33 as coach of the New York Giants, named Coach of the Year in 1993 for going 11-5 with a team that had gone 6-10 the year before.  He later went 49-59-1 as coach of the Atlanta Falcons, winning another Coach of the Year award in 1998 for leading yet another team to the Super Bowl (a loss to his former employers, the Broncos). He is one of nine coaches in league history with at least 200 wins (including the playoffs). 


5 comments, Last at 03 Jan 2022, 7:06pm

1 Hall of Fame coach

Dan Reeves brought to the Broncos (along with the new ownership of Gerald Kaiser and, subsequently, Pat Bowlen) a new level of professionalism, a significant shift in organizational culture that lasted long past his stay.  Aided by the acquisition of John Elway, the team had an extended run of success.  Reeves was famously hard-headed and ultra-competitive (his table-tennis matches with fellow Dallas Cowboy assistant Mike Ditka were legendary blood feuds, even they were friends otherwise).  Elway was also notoriously ultra-competitive, and the two lacked a mesh point.  Ultimately, it seems, it was Elway over Reeves (although reporting on this angle is universally speculative).

Anyway, he went on to the Giants and was reasonably successful with a pretty mediocre roster.  Then to the Falcons, also with not-great rosters but yet another run to a Super Bowl against a vastly superior team.  For the fourth time.

He is saddled with the "couldn't win the big one" label, solely by non-football people.  Writers.  Radio hosts.  Bar stool experts.  In other words, deciders of the Hall of Fame.

This is simply my opinion, but it seems to me that Dan Reeves routinely coached up inferior rosters to higher accomplishments.

Tip of the cap.





2 Agree with all of that. His…

Agree with all of that. His appearances as a player, and I think also a player coach       with the Cowboys, and his winning of Coach of the Year with multiple teams make him the kind of person I’d have happily seen in the Hall of Fame, but getting frequently limited teams to over-perform doesn’t seem to be enough. 

I always had the feeling there was some stirring of the pot by Mike Shanahan in the eventual breakdown of the Elway/Reeves relationship. the fact that Reeves didn’t seem to want to give his side and just got on with his new jobs also is a plus in his ledger for me. It may well be that Reeves’ hard nosed persona began to wear out on younger players as his stints at the Giants and Falcons didn’t last so long, but still an excellent coach for a long time.

3 Two Reeves sayings

I think both were from a deodorant commercial in which he appeared, although he may have said them independently and surely believed and lived them independently:

”Never let them see you sweat.”

”Don’t let the fans pick your quarterback.”

4 Better to be memorable than not

I think it's possibly overstated how few NFL coaches there supposedly are, or have been, that can take allegedly overmatched rosters and have them push superior contenders to the brink, as Reeves did in the '91 AFC Championship in Buffalo or the '93 season finale against the Cowboys. It's still certainly worth appreciating. I can't help but wonder though whether someone a little better equipped to deal with Elway drama (remember back early in Bradshaw's broadcast career when he got in trouble for calling Elway 'coddled'), or a little less set in his ways, maybe letting Elway call his own plays for example the way Jim Kelly did, might've managed a Super Bowl title the way Shanahan did later. A lot of the broadcasts yesterday announcing Reeves' death showed him dancing the 'dirty bird'. I can't of course know this, but I suspect he secretly would've hated that.

5 I also have no way of…

I also have no way of knowing Coach Reeves' genuine feelings about that Dirty Bird clip, but I have seen a snippet of him looking back at it and seeming quite okay with it.  "Look, I was excited" in his aw shucks, Americus, GA drawl.  I think the clip is kind of cool because it shows a guy who played for, and was mentored by, Tom Landry, doing the most not-Tom Landry thing possible.  It also showed he was a bit more rounded than his image.