Dan Reeves is one of a few players that played for Tom Landry and went on to be a coach. He is second all-time in Super Bowl appearances to Bill Belichick with nine. While Reeves was not a great NFL player, he had a major impact during his coaching career which is still reverberating in the NFL now.
As a member of the Cowboys, Reeves played running back from 1965 – 1972 then was an assistant coach with the team from 1974 – 1980. He spent the 1970 – 1972 seasons as a player/coach. In his eight-year career, he had 3,683 yards and 42 touchdowns. His best season was in 1966 when he had 216 touches for 1,314 scrimmage yards and 16 touchdowns.
In 1981 Reeves got his first head coaching opportunity with the Denver Broncos and coached there until 1992. His biggest impact on the Broncos is when he pulled off the trade to acquire quarterback John Elway. During that time, the Broncos played in three Super Bowls. Some of the coaches who assisted Reeves during his Broncos tenure include Mike Shanahan, Chan Gailey, Mike Nolan and Wade Phillips, all of whom would go on to be head coaches in the NFL.
Reeves then coached the New York Giants from 1993 – 1996 and the Atlanta Falcons from 1997 – 2003. In 1998 Reeves led the Falcons to the Super Bowl which they lost to Reeves’ former assistant Mike Shanahan and former quarterback John Elway and the Broncos. One big accomplishment for Reeves during that 1998 season was getting the best out of journeyman quarterback Chris Chandler, who was named to the Pro Bowl.
One of the interesting things about coaches is seeing who they worked for and who worked for them. As the next generation of football coaches is being groomed, they still are being impacted by the previous generations of coaches. Landry had an assistant named Reeves; Reeves had an assistant named Shanahan; Shanahan had an assistant named Sean McVay and Sean McVay had an assistant named Zac Taylor. Each person is a link on an important chain in the history of the NFL, even if some, like McVay and Taylor, are still writing their stories.