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Remembering Dan Reeves

One hell of a coach.

Denver Broncos Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

“If you can touch it, you can catch it.”

Growing up, my father used to repeat this mantra to me anytime I would come up empty when we played catch in the yard.

“Dan Reeves thinks you should have gotten that one.”

Plenty has been written about how important Dan Reeves was to the game of football and the Denver Broncos. There a conversation to be had regarding the conference championships, the wins, the Super Bowl losses, his feud with John Elway, and everything in between. How he hasn’t made the Hall of Fame already is yet another travesty.

For me though, Dan Reeves was so much more than the the stats and hardware he earned in his 12-seasons with the Broncos. As a kid of the 1980’s whose fandom came of age during his tenure, I couldn’t even fathom Broncos football without him. The no-nonsense, sharp-jawed, sunglasses wearing coach with the southern drawl was both the spearhead and narrator of the successes and failures of 1980’s Denver Broncos football.

The Dan Reeves Show was required viewing at the Place household during dinner. My parents would offer a running commentary as Reeves explained why the Broncos won or lost that week. It wasn’t a bona fide viewing until my dad started imitating Reeves’ drawled go-to response to whatever question to what was asked of him.

“Well we did....”

“Well, we didn’t...”

While, in retrospect, it seems unlikely that he started every question’s answer in that way, it always brought a smile to my face in later years when I would hear him broadcasting on the radio and he would launch into it...

“Well, he... Well they... Well, we...”

It was world-altering when 13-year old Jess found out that the Broncos had moved on from Reeves in favor of Wade Phillips. He had been the coach for pretty much my whole life. Sure, I knew of the feud with Elway. I had come to expect my mother swearing up a storm at unimaginative runs up the middle for no gain that irritated her so. The thought of the Broncos playing without Reeves on the sideline was just unfathomable.

Then a few years later, how insane was it to be the reigning Super Bowl Champions defending the title in the Super Bowl against Dan Reeves? While I knew Reeves’ history in Super Bowls, it was so strange to see Dan directing the Falcons and not the Broncos. Really, you couldn’t write a more storybook ending to Elway’s career. It’s just a shame that Reeves had to end up a villain in that story.

It’s beyond a shame that Dan Reeves isn’t in the hall of fame. The guy either played in or coached in 9 Super Bowls (winning 3). It makes you look at folks like Bill Cowher and Marv Levy who are already in and it just doesn’t make any sense. Zero sense. In the 1980’s AFC football was Dan Reeves, John Elway, and the Denver Broncos. While there was never any Super Bowl success, you can’t tell the story of that decade of football without mentioning Dan Reeves.


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