Dan Reeves is now best remembered as the Man Who Refused to Set John Elway Free.
Coach and superstar often clashed during Reeves reign as head coach of the Broncos, and Elway ended this long-sizzling struggle by thrashing his old coach in the Super Bowl. Elway’s victory in the final game of his career, a 34-19 beatdown of Reeves and his Atlanta Falcons, served as an exclamation mark triumph.
Still, Reeves is one of the titans of Broncos history. Yes, his conservative, defense-first philosophy clashed with the go-go approach of Elway, who was a more talented version of Johnny Manziel. Elway enjoyed a playground approach to football. Reeves embraced the old-fashioned virtues. The Reeves approach worked. He led the Broncos to a club-record five division titles, three Super Bowls and 110 wins in 12 seasons.
Reeves and Elway set aside their troubles as sidekicks during three Broncos trips to the Super Bowl. All three journeys ended – as the entire sporting world knows – in utter disaster.
Elway escaped those disasters by winning two straight Super Bowls in one of the best exits in sports history. It might have been the best exit.
Reeves did not exit in a blaze of glory.
But he richly deserves his place in the Broncos Ring of Fame. Reeves, Gene Mingo and Rick Upchurch joined the Ring on Tuesday.
Reeves is not forgotten.
But he’s not remembered often enough.