The NFL has lost its fair share of iconic figures this last week, as it was announced on Saturday that Dan Reeves had passed away. It is nearly impossible to put into words what Reeves meant to the game of football. Here, we reflect on his career and what he was able to accomplish through his 77 years of life:
Reeves played his college ball at the University of South Carolina as a three-year starter at quarterback. From 1962-64 Reeves, completed 211-of-441 attempts for 2,561 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He also tacked on 815 rushing yards. Reeves was a dual-sport athlete, playing baseball for the Gamecocks.
In 1965, Reeves declared for the NFL Draft and was ultimately undrafted. However, he received offers from the Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, and an MLB offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates to further his athletic career. Reeves opted to sign with the Dallas Cowboys as a safety, although he winded up being moved to the running back group in training camp. His career as an NFL player lasted eight years, all with the Cowboys. During those eight years, Reeves tallied 1,990 rushing yards across 535 carries, scoring 25 times. He also finished with 129 catches for 1,693 yards and 17 touchdowns. During that span, Reeves played in both Super Bowl V and VI, earning his first Super Bowl ring in the latter.
Reeves began his coaching career in 1975 as an offensive backfield coach for Tom Landry. Two years later, he was promoted to offensive coordinator and won his first Super Bowl as an assistant coach. His record as an assistant coach was 68-22, with a postseason record of 9-5. In 1981, the Denver Broncos hired Reeves as their head coach. During his tenure with the Broncos, Reeves racked up a regular season record of 110-73-1, which included a postseason record of 7-6. His highlights as Denver’s head coach include acquiring John Elway, three Super Bowl appearances, and five division titles. He was the first coach inducted to the Broncos Ring of Fame.
Dan Reeves earned his second head coaching stint with the New York Giants in 1993. His first year in New York looked to be promising, as the Giants finished the year with an 11-5 record and won their first playoff game since winning the Super Bowl two years prior. They ended up losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional round.
The final chapter of Reeves’ coaching career occurred in Atlanta, where he took over in 1997. After going 7-9 in his first year, Reeves led the Falcons to a 14-2 record the next season. Although, he missed the final weeks of the regular season due to a quadruple-bypass heart surgery. He ended up returning to sidelines for the NFC Championship game, where the Falcons defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 30-27 in overtime. He ended up playing his former team in the Denver Broncos, losing 34-21. Despite the Super Bowl loss, Reeves earned the Coach of the Year award that season. The next three years of his tenure in Atlanta didn’t fare so well, as the team posted a 16-32 record over that span.
Quarterback Michael Vick was drafted in 2001, but his career would take flight in 2002 during his first year as the starting quarterback for the Falcons. After going 9-6-1, the Falcons returned to the playoffs after a three-year drought. Their time in the playoffs was brief, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles, 20-6. The following year, the Falcons maintained a 3-10 before Reeves was fired mid-season. Reeves won his final game as head coach against the Carolina Panthers, 20-14 in overtime.
Reeves finished his coaching career with a regular season record of 190-165-2 and 11-9 postseason record. He is currently 10th in games won among head coaches. Notable coaches that worked under Reeves include Dennis Allen, Chan Gailey, Mike Nolan, Mike Shanahan, and Art Shell.