Farm boy Danny Reeves was the Star of Americus' Team.

Football lifer Dan Reeves was America's Player, Assistant Coach and Head Coach.

He has been selected to the Sports Hall of Fames of Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and Colorado. He is in the Americus High School Hall of Fame, the Gamecocks Athletic Hall of Fame and the Broncos' Ring of Honor.

Dan is the Man Canton has slighted wrongly, but he is a true Pro Football Hall of Famer who played and coached in nine Super Bowls.

Daniel Edward Reeves, a running back who passed for a touchdown in the legendary Ice Bowl, passed on early New Year's Day, 18 days before his 78th birthday.

Happy Trails to Dan, who once was featured on the Sports Illustrated cover, glowingly, as "The Unwanted Cowboy."

Dan Reeves, who brought the Broncos to three Super Bowls, dies at 77

Both George Reeves and Dan Reeves played Superman.

2022 begins as forlornly as 2021 had been for former Broncos. Our Dust Cowtown Football Team lost Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little on Jan. 1, then running back Otis Armstrong and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, and former assistant coaches Alex Gibbs, Greg Knapp, Jim Fassel and Dave Magazu, and, now, Dan Reeves, who was head coach for a dozen years in the 1980s-90s.

So sadly, the Broncos’ first nine head coaches since 1960, the birth of the franchise, have died. They were Frank Filchock (1994), Jack Faulkner (2008), Hall of Famer Mac Speedie (1993), Ray Malavasi (1987), Lou Saban (2009), Jerry Smith (2011), John Ralston (2019), Red Miller (2017) and Reeves (2022).

I was honored to have interviewed all — especially the last three before the Broncos' Super Bowl 50 championship. Ralston and Reeves died as the result of dementia complications. John, Red and Dan were first-time NFL head coaches in Denver for a combined 21 seasons. Dan and I had the most enjoyable adversarial relationship ever. He did magic tricks for me in his office, beat me often on the golf course and yelled at me in news conferences.

In his long, successful reign, Dan guided the Broncos to 117 overall triumphs, six double-digit victory seasons, five AFC West titles, six playoff seasons, seven post-season victories, four AFC Championship games and three Super Bowls.

He did it all with John Elway, who was acquired as a rookie in 1983. Generally forgotten is Reeves hired Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator and named Mike Shanahan offensive coordinator. The two succeeded him as Broncos head coaches. In AFC Championships, Dan twice defeated Browns coach Marty Schottenheimer, the only NFL coach other than Reeves to win 200 games and not be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Marty died 11 months ago.

Dan was the fiercest, most fearless coach I’ve ever covered.

He finally revealed why in our last lengthy conversation before his induction into the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 2014.

Reaction to the death of former NFL coach, player Dan Reeves

As "a sickly kid, I spent most of my first six years in bed" on the 275-acre farm owned by his parents Edd and Ann Reeves outside the county seat of Americus, Ga. After recovering, Danny spent the next 12 years farming and playing football, basketball and baseball.

"At night after practices I had to plow the fields on our tractor, and I never told anybody I was afraid of the dark," Dan said."I eventually got over my fear and was determined to be the fiercest athlete around because I didn’t want to end up as a farmer."

He was all-state in two sports, but only South Carolina wanted him as a quarterback. Nobody in the NFL wanted him as a quarterback or anything else. He went undrafted, and the Cowboys turned the free agent into a defensive back, then a running back because of injuries.

"The Unwanted Cowboy" played with Dallas for eight seasons, the last three as a player/coach after tearing his knees, and finished with 4,153 yards rushing, receiving, returning and passing. He was in five Super Bowls with the Cowboys as a player and an assistant.

He turned down two head coaching offers, but accepted the job with the Broncos in 1981 when new owner Edgar Kaiser Jr. called the only person he knew from the NFL, quarterback Fran Tarkenton, and asked who he should hire. Reeves negotiated a three-year $375,000 contract.

"I should have asked for longer and more," he told me.

Canadian businessman Kaiser was clueless about football, but he was able to hire Reeves, then trade for Elway, before he sold the franchise to Pat Bowlen in 1984.

Reeves would be head coach with the Broncos (losing three Super Bowls), the Giants and the Falcons (who lost the Super Bowl to the Broncos) and, over 38 years in the NFL, served with teams in a record nine Super Bowls before being surpassed by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. "My only regret is that we didn’t win the Super Bowl with the Broncos."

Dan will make the Hall of Fame too late for him to appreciate. But he did well.

"It’s been a good football life and a great life," Reeves said. "And I didn’t have to go back to farming."

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