Where Are They Now? Dan Reeves
Former legend laying low after tremendous NFL coaching career
Issue date: 9/11/09
The rings don't lie. When it comes to playing in championships, former South Carolina quarterback Dan Reeves might be the best of the bunch.
Just look at the numbers. Three Super Bowl appearances as head coach of the Denver Broncos. Another appearance as coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 1998. Throw in a handful more as a player with the Dallas Cowboys, and Reeves might be one of the most experienced athletes when it comes to playing on the big stage.
"To be able involved with nine Super Bowls in the 39 years that I was involved with pro-football, you've got to know how lucky you are," Reeves said. "There are a lot of guys that play for 10 or 15 years and never make it to a Super Bowl. I was fortunate enough to be in nine."
Reeves, who currently serves as an NFL broadcaster for Westwood One Radio, departed from his tenured head coaching career in the professional ranks during the 2003 season, marking the end of a tenure in pro-football that began in 1965 when legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry signed Reeves as running back.
After gaining over 3,500 all-purpose yards over eight seasons, Reeves concluded his playing career and began what is now viewed as his greatest accomplishment: coaching.
"I ended up tearing my knee up and Coach Landry asked me to be a player/coach," Reeves said. "I thought I'd come back and work with my dad in road construction or something like that. But this was an opportunity to be a player/coach and I did that for three years and in those three years we went to the Super Bowl twice. I kind of got that in my blood real quick."
After leading quarterback John Elway and the Broncos to three championship appearances, and leading the Falcons to one more in 1998, Reeves concluded his coaching career with 190 victories, three AFC Coach of the Year awards and two NFL Coach of the Year awards.
"I was just surrounded by a lot of good people," Reeves said. "The owners, coaches and players. And that's what it takes. You've got to have everybody around you working for the same thing."
But for all of the individual awards he has received, Reeves still credits USC for numerous accomplishments.
"They gave me an opportunity to get a college education and at the same time play something that I've loved since I was a little boy," Reeves said. "I'll never be able to repay the University for what they did for me."
Reeves' mentor, then-head coach Marvin Bass, became more than just a leader for the quarterback, who followed Bass throughout the remainder of the coach's storied career.
"He was the first man I tried to hire when I got my first coaching job in Denver," Reeves said. "He was with me in Denver and was with me in Atlanta. When I got fired, gosh, Coach had to be 83 years old."
Bass, who offered Reeves the opportunity to be a scholarship player for the Gamecocks, served not only as a coach and assistant to the quarterback, but as a confidant off the gridiron.
"He was somebody that was like a second dad to me," Reeves said. "That's how much I thought of him in the four years that I spent at South Carolina, which was one of the greatest experiences anyone could have."
Ironically, one of those great experiences that Reeves was unable to participate in was playing in his home state of Georgia, where USC heads tomorrow to take on its hated rival Georgia.
"The only game that I missed in my entire college career was against the University of Georgia," Reeves laughed. "I had a hemorrhage in my eye I think the week before we played Maryland my junior year. So when we went to Athens, I wasn't able to play."
While Reeves won't be in his home state to see USC take on UGA, he plans on returning to Columbia next month for the next committee meeting for the "Garnet Way," which Reeves has been apart of since its inception.