State Your Case: Dan Reeves

Dan Reeves went to nine Super Bowls -- two as a player, three as an assistant head coach and four as a head coach. But he's never been in the room as a Hall-of-Fame finalist, and that's downright wrong.

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)


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.