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Sacco Sez: Dan Reeves binds the Broncos and Falcons together

Every week of the NFL season, team public relations staffs dig up the most prominent connections between the competing teams.

In the case of the Broncos and Falcons, the most obvious connection is Ring of Fame head coach Dan Reeves.

Dan was hired by former team owner Edgar F. Kaiser Jr. in 1981 and coached here for 12 seasons, becoming the only AFC head coach to take his team to three Super Bowls in the 1980s.

View photos of the three Broncos that will be inducted into the team's Ring of Fame this year.

His Denver association continues today not only with Dan as a Ring of Fame member, but two of his quarterbacks currently lead that same franchise: John Elway is Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager and Gary Kubiak is Head Coach.

Dan Reeves made his mark here early and in so many ways.

I was the first one to get a phone call from Edgar to let me know Dan was being hired, a moment both bittersweet and exciting, as change often is.

I recall watching Cowboys games on Monday Night Football in the 1970s and hearing the bombastic Howard Cosell say, "That young man Dan Reeves is going to make some team a great head coach someday."

It turned out to be Denver, and Howard was spot on.

I remember the time in our first training camp in Fort Collins, when the dormitory beds had not yet been made by lunch time. Our general manager at that time said it was no big deal. Dan said, "If you live like pigs, you play like pigs."

The beds were made early the next morning and every subsequent morning from then on, just one small anecdote in a pattern of setting the highest standards possible.

Back when he was a great high school quarterback in Georgia, he did not get a scholarship offer from the University of Georgia, but accepted one at South Carolina, which he accepted. However, after committing to South Carolina and then starring in the state's high school all-star game, Georgia came back to him with an offer.

But Dan relayed to me that his father told him, "You gave your word to those folks at South Carolina," and of course Dan kept his word and declined the Georgia offer.

It was Dan who not only drafted Gary Kubiak (Elway, of course, came via a trade engineered by Kaiser himself), but who hired Mike Shanahan, then a young offensive coordinator at the University of Florida.

Of the Broncos' eight Super Bowl appearances, Dan is connected to all of them. He took the team to Super Bowl XXI, XXII XXIV in the 1980s, and his former assistant Mike Shanahan guided the Broncos to two consecutive championships in 1997 and 1998 and, of course, Elway has been at the helm for two appearances in the last three years, with Kubiak the Head Coach for Denver's Super Bowl 50 title. Reeves also has a connection to the Broncos' first Super Bowl appearance, in Super Bowl XII, though on the opposing side. Reeves was the offensive coordinator for the Cowboys from 1977 to 1980.

In his 12-year Denver career, Reeves won 110 games while leading the Broncos to a franchise-best five division titles, still the most in team history for one coach. The Broncos made six postseason appearances and went all the way to the Super Bowl in three of them, while suffering just two losing seasons in his era.

In his NFL career as player and coach, Reeves earned the distinction of participating in more Super Bowls (nine) than any other individual in NFL history.

That includes his last appearance as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII, in which the Broncos won the franchise's second world title.

He is among several retired Broncos who deserve inclusion into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I hope that selection comes soon.

His accomplishments here and his impact on the team without question make Dan Reeves the Broncos' most prominent connection to the state of Georgia.

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