Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2004

Golf, grandkids help Reeves get over football

November 11, 2004

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— Dan Reeves' cholesterol count never has been better. He's getting compliments on losing a few pounds. And he doesn't miss football all that much.

Hey, let someone else worry about the NFC South race, plan for the draft and fret about salary caps and free agency. Reeves would rather spend time playing golf and hanging out with his grandchildren.

"I certainly sleep a lot better, definitely," Reeves said. "Some of those pressures are gone."

The 60-year-old Reeves has adjusted to his new life with surprising ease after being fired by the Atlanta Falcons late last season, ending almost a quarter-century as an NFL head coach.

His golf scores are down. There's time for church on Sundays. He and his wife, Pam, have almost finished their lakefront home in the mountains northeast of Atlanta.

Reeves, only the sixth coach to win 200 games, has no plans to return.

Sort of.

"I think 'never' is a bad word, but I'm enjoying what I'm doing," he said. "I had been a head coach for 23 straight years. That's a long time, particularly the way the NFL is now."

Reeves boasted that the latest count of his HDL -- the good cholesterol -- was 58. Since having quadruple bypass surgery during the Falcons' 1998 Super Bowl season, he's focused on his cholesterol numbers. Despite his best efforts while coaching, he rarely had pushed the HDL higher than the 30s.

Getting away from football changed all that.

"I just didn't realize," Reeves said. "I had done tests before. They say stress has something to do with it. I thought it'd be stressful to me if I wasn't coaching."

He still keeps up with the Falcons, who surprisingly are 6-2 midway through their first year under Jim Mora. The new coach kept Reeves' son-in-law, Joe DeCamillis, on the staff to run special teams.

"I'm really happy for him," DeCamillis said. "The thing I was most worried about was once the season starts. I didn't think he would miss any of the offseason stuff. I didn't think he would miss personnel decisions. I didn't think he would miss cutting players and all that kind of stuff. What I thought he was going to miss was the actual preparation and Sunday of the game."

Defensive end Patrick Kerney said he had talked with Reeves two or three times since the season began.

"He's like, 'I'm proud of your effort out there,"' Kerney said. "He's so gushing with pride that I feel some pretty close ties."

Reeves won't completely close the door to another coaching job, in part because he has seen coaching peers such as Bill Parcells, Dick Vermeil and Joe Gibbs drawn back to the game.

"I'm sure all those guys didn't expect to get back in it," Reeves said.

Last year, quarterback Michael Vick broke his leg in the preseason, and the Falcons lost nine of their first 11 games. Vick returned to lead the Falcons to a victory over Carolina, but it wasn't enough.

Reeves was fired three days later, though owner Arthur Blank told him he could coach the final three games.

Reeves decided it was time to go, though he did attend the news conference to announce his firing. Wade Phillips coached the final three games; the Falcons finished 5-11.

"I was kind of surprised it ended the way it did," Reeves said.

But Reeves doesn't dwell on his firing. After all, he went through the same thing in Denver, where he took three teams to Super Bowls, and with the New York Giants, where he was coach of the year in 1993.

"I think anytime something like that happens, you don't agree with it," Reeves said, "but you move on."

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