The NFL, and the football world at large, is mourning the passing of coaching icon Dan Reeves.
Many people woke up on New Year’s Day to the sad news that former NFL head coach Dan Reeves passed away at the age of 77 at his home in Atlanta.
Reeves had been battling dementia and had been out of the public spotlight for years. However, he leaves behind an incredible football legacy. From his days as a three-sport athlete in Americus, Georgia, to playing quarterback for the South Carolina Gamecocks, to playing running back for Tom Landry on the Dallas Cowboys, Reeves is best remembered for being a head coach.
Reeves served as an assistant under Landry before taking over the Denver Broncos in 1981. With John Elway as his star quarterback, the Broncos made it to three Super Bowls under his watch. After being let go in Denver, he took over the New York Giants, leading them to the playoffs in 1993. After that, the Georgia native returned home to help make the Atlanta Falcons matter.
The Falcons made the NFC playoffs twice under his direction. This included the unforgettable 1998 run to the Super Bowl with the original Dirty Birds. Four years later, the Falcons became the first team in NFL history to beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in a playoff game, thanks in large part to one of the greatest games of Michael Vick’s NFL career. He was fired only a year later.
Reeves went 190-165-2 in his coaching career, taking four different teams to the Super Bowl and nine in total, which is only surpassed by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
NFL world is mourning the passing of head-coaching icon Dan Reeves
All five teams closely associated with Reeves sent out heartfelt messages about their former player and head coach.
“Reeves coached the Broncos with integrity, character and toughness along with sincere appreciation for his players and coaches. His time with the Broncos was part of a remarkable 39-year career in professional football in which he appeared in the Super Bowl an astonishing nine times as a player or coach.” – Denver Broncos organization.
“Dan Reeves had a legendary NFL career as both a player and a coach. He made an indelible mark on the League and all of the people he played with, coached and worked alongside. He was one of the finest men I have ever been around in this business. Our deepest condolences to Pam and the entire Reeves family.” – John Mara, New York Giants President.
“Dan Reeves leaves a lasting legacy in our game as a player and coach. His track record of success in Dallas, Denver, New York and Atlanta over several decades speaks for itself, marking a long and successful life and career in football. On behalf of the Atlanta Falcons I extend our condolences to Dan’s family and friends as they mourn his passing.” – Arthur M. Blank, Atlanta Falcons owner and chairman.
Reeves not only left an indelible impact with the four organizations where he coached, but he made the players he led better. Whether it was Elway, Vick, former Falcons kicker Jay Feely, former Giants quarterback Danny Kanell or his nephew, New England Patriots center David Andrews, his legacy will carry on with those he helped teach the game of football and how to play it with class.
While it has been nearly 20 years since Reeves was last the head coach of the Falcons, his untimely passing can serve as a reminder of how truly underrated of a head coach he was. Reeves should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nobody ever had a bad thing to say about Coach Reeves. He will be missed.