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Former Falcons head coach Dan Reeves passes away at age 77

Reeves coached the Falcons from 1997-2003.

STEVEN R. SCHAEFER/AFP via Getty Images

2022 just got here, but it’s already off to a rough start, as it’s been announced that former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Reeves has passed away at age 77. Reeves coached the Falcons during their most successful season to date, the 1998-1999 season.

Reeves was born on Jan. 19, 1944, in Rome, Georgia, where he attended Americus High School. Reeves went on to play football and baseball at the University of South Carolina and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1977. Although undrafted, Reeves had a stellar career playing for the Dallas Cowboys as a running back from 1965-1972, recording 1,990 yards, 25 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns.

After his playing career ended, Reeves went on to coach the Denver Broncos from 1981-1992, guiding the Broncos to six post-season appearances, five divisional titles, three AFC Championships and three Super Bowl appearances. Reeves then went on to coach the New York Giants from 1993-1996, making the playoffs in his first season with an 11-5 record.

In 1997, the Falcons hired Dan Reeves to be their next head coach, changing the franchise forever. During the 1998-1999 season, the Falcons would go 14-2 and win the first NFC Championship in franchise history. Reeves missed two games that season as he had quadruple-bypass heart surgery but did return to the sidelines three weeks later. Reeves was awarded AP NFL Coach of the Year that season.

JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images

“Dan Reeves leaves a lasting legacy in our game as a player and coach. His track record of success in Dallas, Denver, New York and Atlanta over several decades speaks for itself, marking a long and successful life and career in football,” Arthur M. Blank said in a statement. “On behalf of the Atlanta Falcons I extend our condolences to Dan’s family and friends as they mourn his passing.”

Reeves will be remembered by many for many different reasons, owing to his greatness as a coach and his reputation as a wonderful person. For Falcons’ fans, he helped bring the team to the most successful point in franchise history during the 1998-1999 season. That season remains the franchise record for wins and an incredibly fond memory for everyone who got to see it, and we’ve lost one of the legends responsible for that.

Rest easy, coach Reeves.