Posted: Wednesday, February 13th 2013 at 1:58pm
Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl coach speaks at RMA
By Jerry Gunn Staff
GAINESVILLE - Former National Football League Coach Dan Reeves was Wednesday's Character Development speaker at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville. Reeves spoke of leadership qualities, and how important it is in life not to quit.
“I talk about character and about leadership, the qualities that most every football team has to have to be successful,” Reeves said.
1998's National Football League Coach of the Year said football players and military school cadets have to learn the same lessons.
“Cadets learn all about team work and how you’re depending on other people to help you out, and that’s exactly what football is,” the Coach added. “When I look back and see the people who influenced me the most other than my mom and dad, the coaches that I had in high school, college and the pros, I’m just thankful that I got an opportunity to be around men like that."
A career player and later coach during his 39 years on the grid iron, Reeves led the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl in 1999. In 1997, he was named head coach of the Falcons, which he coached for seven seasons and compiled a record of 49-59-1. In 1998 the Falcons went 14–2 in route to winning its first NFC Championship and a berth in Super Bowl XXXIII, where they were defeated by the Broncos, 34-19. In 23 seasons, his overall coaching record was 190-165-2.
“The Falcons have had a great four years now and I can only see them continuing to get better and hopefully be fortunate enough to get the world championship pretty soon," Reeves said.
Reeves told the cadets when he got his father’s permission to play organized football as a teenager growing up on a farm near Americus, his dad told him no matter how hard it gets ‘you aren’t going to quit’. Years later as a professional football coach he told young players who felt they were not making the grade and ready to give up to let him make that decision, not them.
“Once you quit, it’s easy to do it the second time,” he said.
Reeves spent 23 years coaching for the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and the Falcons. He played or coached in a record nine Super Bowls – five with the Dallas Cowboys, three with Denver and one with Atlanta.
Prior to coaching, he also spent 16 years in the Cowboys organization – five as a player, three as a player/coach and eight as an assistant coach.
Coach Reeves was born in Rome, Georgia in 1944. He attended the University of South Carolina where he played quarterback from 1962-64. He was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977.
In 1965, Coach Reeves signed as a free agent with the Cowboys. Over eight seasons as an all-purpose back, Reeves amassed 1,990 rushing yards and 1,693 receiving yards. His best year came in 1966 when he scored 16 touchdowns, which tied him in the NFL that season for most touchdowns. He finished his playing career as the Cowboys’ fifth all-time leading rusher. The Cowboys made the playoffs every year of Coach Reeves’ playing career, reaching the Super Bowl twice and winning Super Bowl VI with a 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
In 1981, he was named head coach of the Denver Broncos. During his 12-year tenure in Denver, Coach Reeves guided the Broncos to six post-season appearances, including five divisional titles, three AFC championships and three Super Bowl appearances (Super Bowl XXI, XXII and XXIV). He was the only AFC coach in the decade of the 1980s to lead his team to consecutive Super Bowl berths. His overall record in Denver was 110-73-1.
Coach Reeves left Denver in 1993 to become head coach of the New York Giants. He served the Giants as head coach for four seasons and compiled a 31-33 record. In his first season, he led the Giants to an 11–5 record and a berth in the playoffs, the best record ever for a Giants first-year coach. He was named the 1993 Associated Press Coach of the Year after helping the Giants improve from a 6-10 record the year before.
Following his coaching career, Reeves began his broadcasting career and served as a NFL analyst for Westwood One. He currently resides in the Atlanta, GA area with his high school sweetheart and wife of 46 years, Pam. They have three children (Dana, Lee and Laura) and now seven grandchildren.
Riverside Military Academy contributed to this story.
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