Valdosta Daily Times

November 11, 2012

Dan Reeves speaks faith, NFL in Valdosta

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Dan Reeves, a former player and coach in the National Football League, made a rare visit to Valdosta Thursday night.

The only coach to lead the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance, Reeves was the guest speaker at the Valdosta State University Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ banquet at Crosspointe Church.

Reeves played in two Super Bowls as a member of the Dallas Cowboys before coaching as an assistant coach in three more championship games and four more Super Bowls as a head coach. He currently lives in Atlanta, where he is retired and works for Westwood One radio, covering the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL.

Prior to Thursday’s event, Reeves agreed to an interview with The Valdosta Daily Times. The following is the complete interview with Coach Reeves.

VDT: “How did you get involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes?”

CR: “In 1965, when I was a rookie for the Dallas Cowboys, Coach (Tom) Landry was one that helped start FCA and I had been to one function when I was at the University of South Carolina and I heard Bob Richards speak — he was a U.S. Olympic gold medal pole vaulter. So when I was (in Dallas) and Coach Landry was involved with it, I started doing some things with the FCA.”

VDT: “How many times do you speak to FCA organizations?”

CR: “This year has been unusual. I’ve probably done more this year than I normally do. But I usually do about 10; this year has been about 20. For some reason, you’d think I was running for office in Tennessee. I’ve been there in Tennessee about 15 times this year.”

VDT: ‘What is it like to talk to young college students?”

CR: “It’s great. Most of (the events) I go to are fundraisers. You kind of have a mixture of adults that are interested in backing and financially supporting FCA. The thing to me that is so important, and I speak at a lot of high schools, it is almost taboo to mention God’s name in public school. So FCA is one of the few vehicles that you can get involved in and have God mentioned. It is for a great cause because there are a lot of kids that have not been inside of a Church.”

VDT: “What year did you become a believer in Christ?”

CR: “I was about 9-years-old, so that would have been about 1953.”

VDT: “With the perception of NFL coaches being what it is today with guys like Rex Ryan, is it hard to keep true to your faith during that?”

CR: “No. When we (the Denver Broncos) played the Super Bowl (XXII) with the Washington Redskins, (Coach) Joe Gibbs and I did our devotional together, the night before the game. The commissioner of the NFL (Paul Tagliabue), said ‘y’all can’t do that.’  We said ‘what do you mean we can’t do it?’, and they said ‘it just doesn’t look right, with two teams that are going to play in the Super Bowl having a devotional the night before the game.’

We were Christians before the Super Bowl, so we went ahead and did it. You still compete and go out and play as hard as you can the next day. It doesn’t have anything to do with doing a devotional the night before the game.”

VDT: “Living in Atlanta, what do you do with retirement?”

CR: “I have a lot of honey-do’s. Thirty-nine years of not doing any, I have a lot of catching up to do.”

VDT: “What is the No. 1 thing on the honey-do list.”

CR: “We have to go to the lake house every weekend.”

VDT: “Do you play a lot of golf?”

CR: “I play a lot of golf but I wish I could play more. My old body gets too sore. I probably play two times a week; if I play three, my body gets too sore.”

VDT: “Do you still watch the NFL a lot?”

CR: “All the time. I do a pre-game show there with the Falcons in Atlanta. I kind of keep up with them and I do a show on Mondays, so I have DirectTV and I kind of watch all of the games.”

VDT: “Are you impressed with how the Falcons are doing this year?”

CR: “You have to be impressed, because they’re very well coached, they have a lot of talent and they don’t beat themselves. It is going to be very difficult for them to go undefeated; they just play too many good teams.”

VDT: “Can (the Falcons) do what you guys did in 1998-99 and go to the Super Bowl?”

CR: “They have a chance. A lot of that depends on staying healthy and playing good at the right time. They have that extra pressure that we didn’t have and that is not winning a playoff game. That is kind of a monkey on your back that you have to get rid of.”

VDT: “Do you like where the NFL is going these days under Commissioner Roger Goodell?”

CR: “I think they are trying to make the game safer and they are trying to make it as clean as they possibly can — getting rid of the drugs and the steroids. So yeah, I think that is important. If we don’t, we are going to lose young people playing the game.”

VDT: “Besides the Falcons this year, what teams have a chance to raise the Lombardi Trophy and win the Super Bowl?”

CR: “You have so many teams. If you look at the NFC, obviously you have the Giants and the 49ers that are going to be two of the playoff teams and those are two tough teams. The 49ers probably have the best defense in the league. The Giants are a good balanced team and the defending champions. If you look in the AFC, you have Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and some great quarterbacks. It is difficult to say.”