Former NFL coach Dan Reeves has died at the age of 77

ATLANTA – Dan Reeves, who won a Super Bowl as a player with the Dallas Cowboys but was best known for a long coaching career highlighted by four more appearances in the title game with the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, died Saturday. He was 77.

A statement released by his family through former Falcons media director Aaron Salkin said Reeves died of complications from dementia. The statement said he died ‘peacefully and surrounded by his loving family in his home in Atlanta.’

“His legacy will continue through his many friends, players and fans as well as the rest of the NFL community,” the family said.

Reeves was a versatile player who played a key role in the Cowboys becoming an NFL powerhouse in the 1960s under Tom Landry, but his own coaching career – spanning three teams and 23 seasons – is where he really put his imprint on the league.

Just 37, when he took over as coach of the Broncos in 1981, he built a team around quarterback John Elway, who played three Super Bowl appearances during his 12-year tenure.

But Denver never won a title under Reeves, and was blown out in all three of his trips to the title game.

After a bitter parting with the Broncos, Reeves moved to New York to coach the Giants in 1993.

He was fired after four seasons, but quickly got hold of the Falcons in 1997, a homecoming for the native Georgia who grew up in the Americus.

In just his second season with a franchise that had had little success, Reeves guided a team known as the ‘Dirty Birds’ to a 14-2 record in the regular season and their first trip to the Super Bowl.

Reeves again fell short for a championship and lost to Elway and the Broncos to leave him with a 0-4 mark as Super Bowl coach.

Reeves developed a trade that brought Michael Vick to the Falcons and remained as coach until the 2003 season, when he was fired after the team won only three of its first 13 games.

He ended his coaching career with a record of 190-165-2.

Reeves remained in Atlanta after his retirement, and especially served as an adviser to Georgia State when it launched a football program that now plays in the Sun Belt Conference.

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