Dan Reeves, one of only a handful of NFL coaches to ever win 200 or more games, died at 77 Saturday in his Atlanta home. The former Dallas Cowboys player spent 39 years in the NFL, including Super Bowl appearances both as a player and coach.
Reeves made his NFL debut in 1965 and spent the next eight years as a running back with the Dallas Cowboys. As a player he made two Super Bowl appearances, including the Cowboys’ 1972 win against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.
His on-field talents were only surpassed by his coaching abilities, where he made seven Super Bowl appearances as coach or assistant coach.
His participation in nine Super Bowls is the third most in NFL history behind New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, with 12, and quarterback Tom Brady, with 10, ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted.
But, according to NFL.com, Reeves is the only person in NFL history to appear in multiple Super Bowls as a player and coach.
Super Bowl grandeur aside, one of his greatest legacies was his impact on the Denver Broncos. He was brought on as the head coach in 1981 and established the team as a powerhouse for a decade. He and quarterback John Elway brought the Broncos five division titles and made three Super Bowl appearances.
Elway said in a statement that his success on the field can be attributed to Reeves.
“The football world lost a heckuva coach and man today in Dan Reeves,” Elway said. “With Dan, you knew you were going to be in every game. You always had a chance with him on your sideline. As the head coach, Dan was tough but fair. I respected him for that.”
In 1993, Reeves left Denver for New York, where he spent four years as the head coach of the Giants. He spent the last seven years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons, bringing them to the Super Bowl for the first time in 1999.
Reeves was a member of the Broncos Ring of Fame, the University of South Carolina Hall of Fame, the state of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. And Elway said in his statement that his former coach should be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that Reeves died due to complications from dementia. He is survived by his wife, Pam, and three children, Dana, Laura and Lee, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.