Former Cowboys RB and legendary coach Dan Reeves dies at 77

Before Dan Reeves‘ career veered into the coaching ranks, where he excelled like very few, he spent his entire time on the gridiron in the Dallas Cowboys backfield.

Every snap Reeves took at the professional level came with America’s Team from 1965-1972, a storied era of Cowboys football that resulted in annual playoff appearances (eight for eight), a pair of Super Bowls (his first two of nine), and a championship.

Before long, Reeves had parlayed that winning mindset into a multi-decade run as a prominent head coach in Denver, East Rutherford, and Atlanta after getting his feet wet with assistant work in Dallas (again, his football family).

Tragically, Reeves’ Super Bowl appearances and steadfast leadership were not honored in Canton prior to his passing, which was announced the morning of New Year’s Day 2022. This is surely a decision that will be reevaluated quickly, and the timing will sting in the interim.

Former Cowboys RB and legendary head coach Dan Reeves dies at 77

Reeves’ career as a player was certainly nothing to sneeze at; after starting at quarterback for the University of South Carolina (and compiling just a 8–21–4 record), he wound up signing with Tom Landry’s Cowboys as a safety, but found himself quickly shipped to the backfield in order to instill an offensive spark.

It worked. In 1966, Reeves led the team in rushing, finished second in receiving, and made the Sporting News All-Pro team at the end of the season.

Things on the field were never the same for Reeves after 1968, when he tore knee ligaments and missed the remainder of the campaign. But that doesn’t take away his contributions to a championship season in 1971, nor does it remove the successful TD pass he threw during the famed Ice Bowl against the Green Bay Packers.

Modern fans likely know Reeves as the bespectacled sideline stalker who led the Broncos to the precipice of greatness in the 1980s, as well as the Atlanta Falcons back to the Super Bowl in the late 1990s, where they faced off with his former internal nemesis John Elway (their beef was legendary).

Reeves joins Marty Schottenheimer in an exclusive, and depressing, group of NFL head coaches with 200 wins who have not been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Though it is now too late for both men to receive their rewards in person, both families deserve a public final celebration.