UPPER CUMBERLAND – An upcoming banquet set to benefit the Upper Cumberland Fellowship of Christian Athletes (UC-FCA) will have a heavy Super Bowl feel. Noel Cherry, UC-FCA director, announced that NFL legend, Dan Reeves, will be the keynote speaker for this year’s event, Thursday, Feb. 20.
Reeves has been part of nine Super Bowls, two as a player (Dallas Cowboys), an assistant coach in three, and four as a head coach. He was the last player-coach to participate in the NFL (three years with the Dallas Cowboys). Reeves will not only speak at the banquet, but he will also be a participant in the coaches clinic, which will precede the event, Cherry said.
“This is a bucket list opportunity. Dan Reeves is an exciting speaker who will leave a lasting impression with anyone or group he speaks to,” Kevin Tucker, banquet chairman, said. “Coach Reeves will share some interesting stories and provide inspiration to improve your quality of life.”
The banquet will begin at 5:45 p.m. at the Leslie Town Centre, 1 W. First St., Cookeville, and include live and silent auctions. Early response to the banquet has been overwhelming, FCA officials said. Reservations can be made by calling Deana Persson at the UC-FCA office at (931) 372-2123 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although Reeves went undrafted after graduation from the University of South Carolina as quarterback from 1962-1964, he received offers to play professional sports with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, the San Diego Chargers in the AFL, and Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates.
Reeves signed with the Cowboys as a rookie undrafted free agent in 1965 to play the safety position, but was later moved to halfback. His rookie year was spent playing mostly in the special team units.
In 1966, Tom Landry looking for more speed at running back, shifted All-Pro safety Mel Renfro to offense. Renfro was hurt in the opening game against the New York Giants, and Reeves took advantage of this playing opportunity by having a break out season leading the team in rushing with 757 yards and in scoring with 96 points while finishing second in receiving with 557 yards. He set a Cowboys record with 16 touchdowns (eight rushing and eight receiving), had more than 1,300 combined yards, was sixth in the NFL in rushing, first in touchdowns and sixth in scoring. He was voted to The Sporting News All-Pro team.
In 1967 he posted back-to-back seasons with more than 600 yards, and he was the Cowboys second leading rusher with 603 yards and third in receiving with 490 yards. In week 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles, he recorded a touchdown run, touchdown reception, and touchdown pass in the same game. He also set a team record scoring four touchdowns in a game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Reeves remained a starter until week four of the 1968 season, when he tore ligaments in his right knee and was lost for the season. That knee injury ended up hampering him for the remainder of his playing career and limiting his abilities. Because of his injury, Landry started playing him in spots and asked him to become a player coach, giving more playing time to Calvin Hill and Duane Thomas. He was a player-coach for three years, until the end of the 1972 season when he retired to become a full-time assistant coach.
Reeves played eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, collected 1,990 rushing yards, 1,693 receiving yards and 42 touchdowns. Reeves threw a touchdown pass in the Cowboys’ losing effort in the legendary Ice Bowl against the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys made the playoffs every year of Reeves’ playing days, reaching the Super Bowl twice and culminating in a 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI following the 1971 season. In Super Bowl V with the Cowboys and Colts tied at 13 in the last two minutes, Reeves let a pass go through his hands and it was intercepted, setting up the Colts in Dallas territory. The Colts would win the game on a 32-yard field goal from Jim O’Brien with 5 seconds left.
Reeves, a protege of Landry, became the youngest head coach at that time in the NFL when he joined the Denver Broncos in 1981 as vice president and head coach. After acquiring quarterback John Elway in a trade, Reeves guided the Broncos to six post-season appearances, five divisional titles, three AFC championships and three Super Bowl appearances (Super Bowl XXI, XXII and XXIV) during his 12-year tenure. Reeves was fired after the 1992 season and replaced by his friend Wade Phillips.
He was the only AFC coach in the decade of the 1980s to lead his team to consecutive Super Bowl berths and his Broncos appeared in the Super Bowl three times during a span of four years.
Reeves served as New York Giants head coach from 1993-1996. In his first season he led the Giants to an 11–5 record and a berth in the playoffs. Reeves’ 1993 season record is the best ever for a first-year Giants coach. Reeves was named the 1993 Associated Press Coach of the Year after helping the Giants improve from a 6-10 record in 1992. Reeves was fired again after the Giants went 5–11 in 1995 and 6–10 in 1996.
In 1997, Reeves was named the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Under his command the team, which had finished the 1996 campaign with a 3–13 record, steadily improved. After going 7-9 his first season, the Falcons went 14–2 in 1998, going on to capture their first NFC championship. Reeves coached the Falcons to a 12–2 record before being hospitalized for the final two regular season games to undergo quadruple-bypass heart surgery in December. Reeves managed to return to the sidelines just three weeks later to lead the Falcons to victory in their first NFC Championship. Reeves’ Falcons were pitched against the Denver Broncos and lost Super Bowl XXXIII 34-19. In the process, Reeves earned the NFL’s top coaching award as he was named the 1998 NFL Coach of the Year.