Dan Reeves, a former Dallas Cowboys halfback who, as a coach, guided teams to four Super Bowls (although he lost them all), died on Saturday at his home in Atlanta. He was 77.
The cause was complications of dementia, according to a family statement.
Reeves played and coached with the Dallas Cowboys during a stellar period when they won two Super Bowls, one when he was a player and one when he was an offense coordinator, working for Coach Tom Landry. After several seasons as an assistant to Landry, he was hired as the Broncos’ head coach in 1981, replacing Red Miller.
Over 12 seasons in Denver, his teams had a record of 110-73-1 and were among the best in the American Football Conference. Led by quarterback John Elway, they lost the Super Bowl in 1987, 1988 and 1990 by wide margins to the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers.
Reeves sometimes clashed with Elway over the Broncos’ offensive scheme and disagreed with the team’s owner, Pat Bowlen, over control of the team.
Following an 8-8 season in 1992, Bowlen fired Reeves.
“When you own a football team,” Reeves said afterward, “you should be able to run the ball club the way you would like to.” Bowlen said he could have renewed Reeves’s contract, but that within a year “we both would have been miserable and at each other’s throat.”
Reeves was hired in early 1993 by the Giants, who had fired Ray Handley after a 6-10 season.
“When you’ve gone and lost three Super Bowls and that’s what people will remember the most about you, that’s what drives you,” Reeves said at the news conference where he was introduced.
A complete obituary will appear shortly.