Dan Reeves left his mark on Colorado as have few other coaches.
Head coach of the Denver Broncos for 12 seasons (1981-92), Reeves guided the team to three Super Bowls in four years (1986, 1987 and 1989).
Reeves is the NFL’s winningest active coach with a 167-128-1 regular season record. He ranks eighth on the NFL’s all-time victory list, trailing Don Shula (328), George Halas (318), Tom Landry (250), Curly Lambeau (226), Paul Brown (213), Chuck Noll (193) and Chuck Knox (186). In his years with Denver, he led the team to 10 or more victories seven times.
A native of Americus, Georgia, Reeves was selected NFL Coach of the Year three times, including 1984, after leading Denver to a 13-3 record. His 72-21 regular season record at Mile High Stadium was the best in the NFL during that 12-year span, and he was the only AFC coach in the 1980s to lead his team to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. Over an eight-year period, he led the Broncos to what were then six of the seven best records in franchise history.
In his first season in New York, he took a Giants’ team that had been 6-10 and led them to the playoffs with an 11-5 record, winning NFL Coach of the Year honors in ’93. He was a unanimous selection as Coach of the Year with Atlanta in ’98, and he also won three AFC Coach of the Year awards with the Broncos in ’84, ’89 and ’91.
In only his second season in Atlanta, he led the Falcons to the best record in their history (14-2) and the Falcons’ first Super Bowl appearance in their 33-year history. Amazingly, he underwent emergency bypass surgery during the season, but was back to coaching four weeks later.
He has compiled a 10-8 record in the play-offs, including an impressive 4-1 mark in conference championship games. He has participated in 48 playoff games and nine Super Bowls as player or coach.
An undrafted free agent, Reeves was a running back for the Dallas Cowboys for seven seasons. Reeves drew on his quarterback role at South Carolina to become a respected halfback passer in the pros, completing 30 such attempts for a pair of touchdowns during his NFL career. In addition, he returned some kickoffs and punts, and he played in the NFL championship games of 1966, 1967 and 1970.
He served as player/coach with the Cowboys in 1970 and 1971, then became a full-time assistant coach with Dallas for eight seasons, spending one year outside of football. He helped lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl win over Denver in January, 1978, and was named the Broncos’ youngest head coach in the NFL at age 37.
Highly organized and thoroughly prepared, Reeves also was intensely competitive, and he invariably passed that attitude on to his players. The late Cowboys’ head coach Tom Landry said of Reeves, “He was one of the strongest competitors I ever had, which gave him an edge. Very few players possessed this type of understanding of what’s going on.”
Difficulties in life are intended to make us better, not bitter.