Dan Reeves, player and coach who participated in nine Super Bowls, dies at 77

New York Giants v Denver Broncos
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Dan Reeves, an NFL player, assistant coach and head coach who retired having participated in a then-record nine Super Bowls, has died at the age of 77.

A quarterback at South Carolina better known for his running ability than his passing, Reeves signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cowboys in 1965 and initially was asked to try to make the roster on defense and special teams, but when the Cowboys had injuries at halfback and decided to give Reeves a try at the position, he flourished.

Reeves’ best season as a player came in 1966, when he led the NFL with 16 touchdowns. In eight seasons with the Cowboys, Reeves had 1,990 rushing yards and 1,693 receiving yards, and he totaled 42 touchdowns. He played in two Super Bowls, helping the Cowboys win Super Bowl VI. He then joined the Cowboys’ coaching staff as an assistant to Tom Landry, where he coached in three more Super Bowls.

In 1981, the Broncos hired Reeves as their head coach, making him the youngest head coach in the NFL at the time. In 1983 the Broncos acquired John Elway, and Reeves and Elway got to the Super Bowl together after the 1986, 1987 and 1989 seasons. But they lost all three Super Bowls, Reeves and Elway began to have a personal falling out, and Reeves was fired after an 8-8 season in 1992.

Reeves then spent the next four years coaching the Giants, and he was named the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 1993, but the Giants declined after that and he was fired again following the 1996 season. The Falcons hired him in 1997, and in 1998, the Falcons had one of the most unexpected Super Bowl appearances in NFL history, winning the NFC Championship Game and facing Elway and the Broncos in the Super Bowl, where Reeves’ Falcons lost.

That was Reeves’ ninth and final Super Bowl appearance, setting a new NFL record for the most combined appearances by a player or coach. (That total has since been surpassed by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.)

Reeves’ family released a statement saying he died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, after a long illness.

25 responses to “Dan Reeves, player and coach who participated in nine Super Bowls, dies at 77

  1. RIP to one of the great ones when discussing a coach that succeeded with his players both on and off the field. There are many players that have been interviewed over time that said great things about the man Dan Reeves was.

    We could use more people out there like Coach Reeves.

  2. I will never forget in the 1967 NFL Championship (the Ice Bowl) game when Dan Reeves took the hand off from Don Meredith as he was running left, then he stopped and threw a beautiful pass to a wide open Lance Rentzel for a 50 yard touchdown which gave the Cowboys the lead at 17 to 14. Had Bart Starr not led the Packers down the field and scored one of the most memorable TD’s in NFL history, that pass by Reeves would have given the Cowboys the victory.
    Reeves was a great RB who is always overlooked by everyone. Reeves played QB in college, and was a great athlete. He did everything well, whether it was running with the ball, blocking, or passing.
    Above all else, Reeves was a stand up guy and a darned good head coach, too.
    It’s sad when players I grew up watching pass, and Reeves was one of those.
    R.I.P Dan and condolences to his family.

  3. Dan Reeves was a very good running back who was extremely effective at throwing the “halfback option” pass. Not only was a good player, he became a highly successful coach. Rest In Peace, and condolences to the Reeves family.

  4. If you have Marv Levy in the Hall of Fame, Dan Reeves should have been as well. Their numbers are quite similar, as are their failures.
    Having those Super Bowl losses as the reason to keep him out is inconsistent and unfair, much like an enshrinement happening posthumously.

  5. RIP

    Elway cheated the cap and robbed you of that ring. There will be a reckoning in the afterlife.

  6. RIP.

    I didn’t like the way entitled loser Elway scapegoated Reeves out of Denver. Reeves got a raw deal and was a very good coach.

    David Andrews must be upset today.

    RIP coach. A great NFL career, all the way back to his playing days in Dallas.

  7. Reeves was successful everywhere he went and with everything he did. For someone who grew up with football in the 80s and 90s, he was such an integral part of the game. Such a stoic, yet stable constant. The fact he was “only” 77 reminds me just how young he was as a coach. I would’ve guessed he was a bit older since it’s been so long since he stopped coaching…

  8. I grew up a Tom Landry Dallas cowboy.Dan reeves was not only a championship player ,leader on the football field, but a great coach ,a Christian,showing his players how to be great off the playing field.
    I’m confident cowboys owner Jerry Jones and NFL Roger Goodell will help Dan Reeves get into the football Hall of Fame where he belongs.
    Our prayers & condolences go out to the reeves family.

  9. Thanks for the memories Dan.
    It was fun growing up watching you play on Tom Landry’s North Dallas 40 teams.

  10. bigmoose says:
    January 1, 2022 at 9:27 am
    I will never forget in the 1967 NFL Championship (the Ice Bowl) game when Dan Reeves took the hand off from Don Meredith as he was running left, then he stopped and threw a beautiful pass to a wide open Lance Rentzel for a 50 yard touchdown which gave the Cowboys the lead

    *******************************************************

    That play was one of the most memorable and one of my favorites of all time. I wasn’t necessarily a Cowboys’ fan, but as a football fan, I loved watching them. R.I.P. Dan Reeves.

  11. One of my earliest recollections watching football was rooting for Dan’s Bronco’s (with Craig Morton at QB) to defeat the Dallas Cowboys in 1977. It didn’t happen, but looking back, I recognize that as much as I was always a Redskins fan, I was equally a Dallas Hater. It’s been awful tough to watch the Washington Team for about 25 years now, but I still hate on the Dallas Football Team. But there’s an awful lot to like and respect about Dan Reeves’ career. 1998 with the Falcons was tremendous, that team overachieved all season went 14-2 and were somehow under the radar because the Vikings were getting all the hype. They had their chances in the Super Bowl early, but couldn’t get it over the finish line. May Coach Reeves Rest In Peace

  12. Tremendous gratitude to Dan the person BUT Dan the coach put a cap on Elway’s ceiling. It wasn’t until the more offensively creative Mike Shanahan took over when Elway finally flourished.

  13. The last time the Giants won a playoff game and didn’t reach the SB, Reeves was there coach. 30 years ago.

  14. As a long term Raider fan I may seem out of place here but I just wanted to pay my respects to Coach Reeves.
    When I started following the sport and the Raiders in the early 1980s, Dan Reeves was the brilliant coach at the arch enemy Broncos – a position that made him as respected as he was hated in my book.
    I loved it when we played his Broncos teams – you earned your wins and deserved your losses. Thanks for some great memories.
    It’s criminal he is not in the Hall – he gets my vote, even as a fan of a sworn enemy.
    RIP, Coach Reeves and love to all your family.

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