He Lost 4 Rings as Coach, but Got One as a Player

Dan Reeves dies at 77 from dementia complications
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 1, 2022 11:24 AM CST
He Got One Ring as a Player, Lost 4 as a Coach
Dallas Cowboys right back Dan Reeves is pictured in 1968.   (AP Photo, File)

Dan Reeves, who won a Super Bowl as a player with the Dallas Cowboys but was best known for a long coaching career highlighted by four more appearances in the title game with the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons, all losses, died Saturday at age 77. A statement released by his family through former Falcons media relations director Aaron Salkin said Reeves died of complications from dementia, per the AP. The statement said he died “peacefully and surrounded by his loving family at his home in Atlanta.” Reeves was a versatile running back who played a key role in the Cowboys becoming an NFL powerhouse in the 1960s under Tom Landry, but his own coaching career—stretching over three teams and 23 seasons—is where he truly left his mark on the league.

Including a stint with the New York Giants, Reeves totaled 190 coaching victories—the ninth-most in NFL history. But he was never able to win the biggest game of all, going 0-4 in the Super Bowl, each of them blowout losses. Reeves, Marv Levy, and Bud Grant are the only coaches to lose four times in the Super Bowl. Just 37 when he took over as coach of the Broncos in 1981, Reeves built a team around quarterback John Elway that made three Super Bowl appearances, earned six trips to the playoffs, and won five AFC West titles over his 12-year tenure.

But Denver never won an NFL title under Reeves, losing 39-20 to the Giants in the 1987 Super Bowl, 42-10 to Washington in 1988, and 55-10 to the San Francisco 49ers in 1990— still the most lopsided loss in the game's history. After a bitter parting from the Broncos, Reeves moved to New York to coach the Giants in 1993. In just his second season with a franchise that had experienced little success, Reeves guided the team to its first trip to the Super Bowl. Reeves again came up short of a championship, however, losing to Elway and the Broncos 34-19.

(More obituary stories.)

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