EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Dan Reeves became the New York Giants' head coach yesterday after a month of torment for the team that so recently ruled professional football.
The announcement came at a news conference at Giants Stadium before an overflow crowd of reporters and television crews. It came four weeks after the Denver Broncos dismissed Reeves, four weeks after the Giants dismissed Ray Handley, three weeks after Tom Coughlin spurned the Giants to remain as head coach at Boston College and two weeks after Dave Wannstedt spurned them to become the head coach of the Chicago Bears.
Reeves was the third choice of George Young, the Giants' general manager. Reeves made light of it.
"I was my mother's third choice, too," he said. "I don't feel any less loved than the rest of them. It doesn't make a difference with me. The main thing is that I'm their last choice."
That throwaway line was typical of Reeves yesterday. In the soft drawl of his native Georgia, Reeves, 49, showed poise and a sense of humor. He seemed to enjoy talking with reporters, something that Handley found so difficult.
If Reeves ranks third among siblings, he also ranks third in a more telling category. In his 12 years as the head coach of the Denver Broncos, his teams won 117 games. The only active coaches in the NFL who have won more are Don Shula of the
Miami Dolphins (318) and Joe Gibbs of the Washington Redskins (140).
Reeves will also rank among the highest-paid coaches in pro football behind Shula, Gibbs and the newly appointed Bill Parcells of the New England Patriots, all of whom earn more than $1 million a year. Although Reeves and the Giants would not disclose salary terms, Giants sources said the contract was for five years and indicated it would pay $5 million to $6 million.
Reeves was immensely successful with the Broncos, posting a 117-79-1 mark. They reached four conference championship games and three Super Bowls.
Reeves' wife, Pam, his high school classmate in Americus, Ga., said that when the Broncos cut loose Reeves, "it was like a death in the family."
"My first feeling was relief," she said, "but I knew he would go back to coaching. He hasn't done what he wants to do in this business, and he's young. We thought about not coaching this year. We thought it might be fun, but after a couple of weeks it wasn't fun."