State Your Case: Dan Reeves


Dan Reeves coaches from the sideline during a game.
Dan Reeves coaches from the sideline during a game.
(Dan Reeves photo courtesy of the Denver Broncos)
By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

Nobody has been in more Super Bowls than Dan Reeves. He played in two. He was an assistant in three. And he was a head coach in four.

That should count for something. It should count for Hall-of-Fame consideration.

Yeah, right, you say. So how many times was he the winning head coach? Answer: Zero. His Broncos lost three times, and his Falcons lost once. And big deal.

But wait a minute, I hear you protest, doesn’t the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s board of selectors measure coaches … like quarterbacks …by their rings? In other words, shouldn’t that 0-4 record disqualify Reeves from the conversation?

Well, yes.

And no.

Yes, coaches are measured for rings, but, no, Reeves’ record doesn’t disqualify him from anything but a phone call from the President. Quick, now, tell me how many Lombardi Trophies Marv Levy won? Answer: As many as Dan Reeves. He’s 0-4. Yet it didn’t keep Levy out of Canton. And what about Bud Grant? He went to four Super Bowls, too, and guess what? He didn’t win, either. And he’s in the Hall.

But, people tell me, Levy’s situation was unique because he went to four straight Super Bowls. Not only is that remarkable; it’s never been duplicated. And they’re right. But look what Reeves accomplished in Denver: He went to three Super Bowls in four years and was the only AFC coach in the 1980s to lead his team to consecutive Super Bowls.

Reeves ranks eighth all-time in coaching victories with 190. Nine times in his career he won 10 or more games. Three times he won 12 or more. He was 11-9 in the playoffs, won six division titles and was a two-time NFL Coach of the Year. Yet he not only can’t get into the Hall; he hasn’t even been nominated as a finalist.

You gotta be kidding.

“Not only Bud Grant and Marv Levy,” Hall-of-Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe told the Denver Post, “but, help me, my Super Bowl memory is a little foggy. What did George Allen win again?”

Uh-huh. Zilch. And Allen was 2-5 in the playoffs.

“My biggest regret,” Reeves once said, “is that we didn’t win a Super Bowl for Denver.”

I understand. But that shouldn’t preclude him from getting to Canton. Dan Marino didn’t win one for Miami, either. And he went to only one. Dan Fouts and Warren Moon didn’t. They went to none. But that didn’t prevent them from going to the Hall. And it shouldn’t prevent Dan Reeves.

Oh, and one more thing: Reeves was one helluva player, too. He could run. He could catch. And he could pass, launching the longest completion of the “Ice Bowl,” a 50-yard touchdown strike to Lance Rentzel. He could score, too, setting a team record with four TDs in a 1967 game vs. Atlanta, putting up 16 touchdowns in his first year at running back and scoring via the pass, run and catch in a game against Philadelphia.

Yeah, I know, that’s not supposed to count. You either go into the Hall as a player, or you go in as a coach. Period. To which I say, “Huh?” That rule must change, and here’s hoping it changes in time for Dan Reeves – as good on the field as he was on the sidelines — to make the final cut to 15 so his credentials can be fairly evaluated.

In the meantime, his coaching record speaks for itself. He was good enough to resurrect the Denver Broncos and put them in the Super Bowl. Three times, no less. He was good enough to turn around the floundering New York Giants and put them in the playoffs. And he was good enough to rebuild Atlanta and put it in its first … and only … Super Bowl.

That tells me something. It tells me it’s time to consider Dan Reeves for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

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17 Comments

  1. Rob
    November 17, 2015
    Reply

    Clark when will the seminfinalist be announced for the Hall of Fame Class of 2016?

    • November 17, 2015
      Reply

      Very soon. This month. I’ll find the exact dates but think it might be next week.

    • November 18, 2015
      Reply

      Rob, semifinalists to be announced next Tuesday evening. That’s a list of 25.

  2. Mike
    November 17, 2015
    Reply

    I have always said if the hall is going to disregard all of those great Broncos players from the 80’s then they absolutely HAVE to induct Reeves. I mean how else would all of those average players gotten to the Super Bowl three times?

    • Rick Gosselin
      November 17, 2015
      Reply

      Valid point. The Broncos of the 1970s and 1990s also been passed over.

    • November 17, 2015
      Reply

      Good question, Mike. And one that should be brought up.

  3. Anonymous
    November 17, 2015
    Reply

    Dan Reeves is one my favorite coaches of all time. He changed the environment for the Denver Broncos and turned them into consistent winners. Then he went to Atlanta, turned them into winners, and took them to the Superbowl as well. The Falcons haven’t been the same since Reeves left their organization, and they may never get to the Superbowl again. ? Reeves was a great leader and did what a great coach does, which is to inspire his players to play at their highest level possible. Dan Reeves should already be in the Hall Of Fame.

  4. Kathy
    November 17, 2015
    Reply

    Dan brought respectability and legitimacy to the Denver Broncos and took us to the Super Bowl more times than any coach. He had a knack for taking mediocre teams to the playoffs and Super Bowl. Broncos, Falcons, Giants. He would have my vote.

  5. Ashley Blatchford
    November 17, 2015
    Reply

    Hey Clark!

    Thank you for such an awesome article on my grandfather, Dan Reeves. We started a petition for signatures to show support to the committee! Here is the link but I was hopeful maybe you could send me an email so I could get some more information!
    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/dan-reeves-to-the-pro-football-hall-of-fame

    • November 18, 2015
      Reply

      Ashley, not sure email would work. There are 46 different selectors, and they sometimes get numb to petitions … especially at this time of year. We can … and will … pass along the message. What’s more important is to make sure your selector — in this case, probably Denver — gets out the word. And Denver’s Jeff Legwold will. He’s terrific and knows the score.

      • Rasputin
        November 20, 2015
        Reply

        Is there any way to get the Dallas selector to start getting the word out about Chuck Howley?

        • November 21, 2015
          Reply

          He’s already there.

          • Rasputin
            November 21, 2015

            Is he doing it privately or publicly? Because I haven’t seen him doing it publicly.

  6. Toby rivera
    November 18, 2015
    Reply

    Yes Mr. Dan Reeves should definitely be in the hall of fame, no question… He did his job as a player and coach and was a great coach. You can’t blame all defaults on the coach, it takes a whole team and he got Denver to the bid game several times so he deserves to be there.

  7. jack
    November 18, 2015
    Reply

    Dan Reeves was a great coach he could literally will his teams to win. He knew
    How to manage the game and the clock.
    If he would have spent more time on the east coast he’d have been in the Hof
    By now. Rex Ryan will be in before Dan
    Just shows what a East coast joke the hall of fame is.He Sorry I’m bitter.

  8. Rasputin
    November 20, 2015
    Reply

    Good article. I’ve been arguing for years that Dan Reeves belongs in Canton. Taking 2 different teams to the Super Bowl, both fairly mediocre to start with, is arguably more impressive than taking the same team 4 years in a row when it’s in a significantly weaker conference.

  9. bachslunch
    March 18, 2016
    Reply

    Agreed, Dan Reeves has a reasonable HoF argument. Consider that two other four-time Super Bowl losers with good sized careers are in the HoF in Bud Grant (158-96-5 .621) and Marv Levy (143-112 .561). Reeves doesn’t have as good a win percentage but coached notably longer than either (190-165-2 .535), plus he served as an assistant coach for several years and took on some team executive duties as well.

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