By SAM ADAMS
I’m calling this Sunday’s Atlanta Falcons-Denver Broncos matchup Reeves Bowl II. Broncos. Falcons. Two franchises Dan Reeves led to Super Bowls appearances during his 23-year career as an NFL head coach.
Remember when Reeves did the TV commercial for Dry Idea deodorant? In that thick Southern drawl he says, “Never let the press pick your starting quarterback. Never take a last-place team lightly. And really, no matter what the score, never let them see you sweat.” Reeves is a nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017. He should be the Hall’s second inductee named Dan Reeves. (The first was the late owner of the Rams, who moved the club from Cleveland to Los Angeles in 1946.)
Reeves, with 201 career coaching wins, is one of only nine NFL head coaches to win 200 or more games (playoffs included). Some might hold four Super Bowl losses over his head. Wait. Marv Levy has 154 NFL coaching wins, with an 0-4 record in Super Bowls. He’s in the Hall of Fame. True, Bud Grant won four Grey Cups in the Canadian Football League. In the NFL Grant won 168 games but went 0-4 in Super Bowls. Grant has a gold Pro Football Hall of Fame jacket.
So why not Reeves? Young people don’t know — and old folk may have forgotten — that Reeves was an undrafted player when he signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1965. A year later he was the NFL’s sixth-leading rusher. Reeves scored 42 touchdowns in an eight-year career that was marred by a career-crippling knee injury in 1968. The great Cowboys coach, Tom Landry, realized Reeves still had a lot to offer to the team and made him a player-coach during his final three seasons. Reeves was a part of five Cowboys Super Bowl teams (including the Super Bowl XII-winning team that defeated the Broncos 27-10.)
In the final tally, Reeves participated in nine Super Bowls during his 31 seasons in the NFL. With all of the time, effort and sweat he gave to the NFL, Reeves really and truly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
STRAIGHT FROM THE BARTENDER’S SHOT GLASS: Odell Beckham Jr. has become T.O. 2.0. Like Terrell Owens in his prime, Beckham Jr. is a great receiver. But like T.O., OBJ can’t help but act like a damn fool on the field and sidelines … I don’t know what surprises me more — the University of Colorado football team rising up to crack the AP’s top 25, the Los Angeles Rams starting out at 3-1, or theArizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers fading fast from the NFC’s rear-view mirror … World heavyweight boxing champ Tyson Fury immediately ended his brief retirement from boxing (I believe it lasted 87 minutes), citing mental health issues. Forgive me for not knowing much about this dude being a champion boxer. I thought Fury was a wild stallion on a TV show … The New England Patriots were shut out last week at home by the Buffalo Bills, which reminded me to tell you that the Broncos never have been shut out at home in their franchise history. Including 22 playoff games, it’s a scoring streak of 451 consecutive home games dating back to Oct. 2, 1960. The Broncos also hold the league’s longest current streak for consecutive games scoring, at 377 games. The NFL record is 420 games held by the San Francisco 49ers … Sorry Charger Fan, but this deja vu losing thing must feel like vertigo to you … On Monday I asked Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib if he’s ever approached coaches about letting him play on offense. He told me a story about his playing days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when then-head coach Raheem Morris put in a 15-play package to feature Talib in the offense. It never was used. Talib said he was called into Morris’ office, where the coach ripped up the play package in Talib’s face after he had missed a scheduled team meeting. Talib probably will see his former head coach on Sunday. Morris coaches the Falcons’ wide receivers … When Walt Weiss stepped down as Colorado Rockies manager (to get an interview with the Atlanta Braves or Arizona Diamondbacks maybe?), I thought about a stat I’ve been tracking for a while. That being, catchers have made really successful managers — at least in the 2000s. Nine of the past World Series champions (and 17 of the 32 teams that played in the World Series) since 2000 had managers that played catcher in either the majors or minors. That list includes winners Ned Yost, Bruce Bochy, Joe Girardi, Jack McKeon, Joe Torre, Mike Scoscia and Bob Brenly… I’m taking the Falcons over the undefeated Broncos Sunday. And it has nothing to do with Atlanta’s deadly pass-combo of quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones (who is dealing with a lingering calf injury.) I’m looking at the Falcons’ ability to run at a Broncos defense that continues to show some vulnerability in stopping the run. Well, the running game and familiarity with the Broncos’ coaching staff. Falcons RB coach Bobby Turner was on Denver’s staff with Gary Kubiak during the Broncos’ back-to-back Super Bowl championships run. Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Richard Smith held the same titles for the Houston Texans in 2008, when Kubiak was head coach … My other Funky NFL Picks this week are: Baltimore, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Buffalo,Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, New England, Arizona, Green Bay, Oakland, Carolina and, in the league’s game of the weak, Tennessee over Miami … Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown nine interceptions in his past 85 pass attempts. In his Super Bowl-winning season with the Colts in 2006, Peyton Manning threw nine interceptions in 557 attempts.
CHASER: I picked Miami to beat Cincinnati last week. Sense and I don’t have much common these days. Post that on your chalkboard, Woody.
(Sam Adams has been an outstanding professional journalist, author and touring comedian for 25 years. He will contribute a regular column to woodypaige.com. “In 1991, when I worked full-time as an insurance office clerk and part-time as a stringer for The Denver Post, Woody Paige gave me two pieces of advice. One, he said ‘I like what you’re doing kid, but don’t quit your day job.’ Two, he wrote on a piece of paper ‘Define the goal. Decide what’s important.’ I quit my day job shortly thereafter, unbeknownst to Woody. A year later he hired me at The Post. In 2016 my resume includes jobs covering sports for The Post, the Rocky Mountain News and the Charlotte Observer. I don’t have a day job any more. Currently I’m a professional stand-up comedian who wishes he had played in the NFL. Surely I’d have a national TV gig by now.” samadamscomedy.com)