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Seems like old times

Reeves' comments rekindle feud with Elway, Shanahan

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Posted: Sunday January 24, 1999 03:28 PM

  Old heartache: Reeves still has not gotten over the rough times he had in Denver AP

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CNN/SI) -- As soon as the Broncos-Falcons Super Bowl matchup was set, the main storyline for the game also became clear: it was the sometimes-volatile relationship between Atlanta coach Dan Reeves, Denver coach Mike Shanahan and Broncos quarterback John Elway.

The only question was whether any of the three major players in the drama would put a present-day spin on a feud that goes back almost a decade. It took Reeves just a few days to show that his old wounds have yet to heal.

"The biggest problem I had was that if John Elway had a problem with me, and you're coaching his position, why did I not know that prior to reading that in the paper," Reeves said last week.

Lofton's Analysis
I think the great thing about it for Dan Reeves is that if you're waging a war, this is a great pre-emptive first strike. You get in before the other guy gets in.

This is old news, but next week, it'll be new news. You don't want your team to be hit with that pie in the face. Now the Atlanta Falcons will go in and know the worst about what can happen, the stories about Dan Reeves, how he was a bad coach and how he used to spank John Elway behind the barn. That's old news now. Now you can get on with the football game and concentrate on what's really important.

What I have to ask is was this just emotion flowing out -- the guy did just have open-heart surgery -- or was it a calculated move. We've never thought of Dan Reeves as being manipulating and calculating, but if he planned this, I think it was a good move. -- James Lofton

Countered Shanahan: "I thought we were both going to take the high road on this. Dan Reeves knew his relationship with John. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. It was a tough relationship from the second year, from the first year. Everybody in this town knows that."

If anyone in Denver didn't know about the hostilities last week, they now know all about them.

"It wasn't a fun time," Elway admitted. "It was a tough time for everybody. It's one of those things you wish didn't have to happen, but it did, and nobody can change what happened there."

Players who have been on the sidelines with all three tried to offer reasons why the bitterness between the three had resurfaced.

"Obviously, this has been eating at Dan for a long time, and this is something he felt he had to say to get off his chest," said Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe, who played under Reeves for three seasons in Denver. "Maybe now, we can move past that -- him, John and Mike."

Elway tried to deflect some of the controversy, focusing on the success the Broncos had and not the conflicts exposed within the team.

"Bygones are bygones, and that was six years ago," Elway said. "I've moved on, and I concentrate on the good times. The focus has been on the bad times, but we had a hell of a lot more good times when I was here than we did bad times."

Meyer's Analysis
The way I understand it, Dan was simply asked "What are your memories from Denver?" and out comes this dissertation for 25 minutes about how he and Shanahan have been at odds. Everyone knows this, and really it just cleared the air for Dan. I think this has been eating at Dan for eight or nine years, and he had an international forum and got it out in the air.

But boy, has it set off a furor in Denver. I don't think you want to do this. I would have let this one lie. Mike Shanahan is a workaholic football coach. Now you put a cattle prod in him, and he's going to do everything in his will to get his staff and team motivated, because he did not instigate this. I think this was a bad move. -- Ron Meyer

Shanahan responded to Reeves' comments, but stressed his desire to keep the focus on this year's players and not arguments from years past.

"This game, as I've said before, is much bigger than Mike Shanahan or Dan Reeves," Shanahan said. "It's everything we've been working for from a team standpoint."

It's been suggested that maybe Reeves chose to make these comments this week to try to divert attention from his team, which is appearing in the Super Bowl for the very first time. Whatever Reeves' motivation was, one thing is certain -- this story is only going to get bigger.

The scene now shifts from the individual cities to Miami, site of the Super Bowl and all of the hype that goes along with it. Certainly everyone will be on the lookout for the first meeting between Reeves and Shanahan, who said this week he would be willing to shake Reeve's hand after the game, though he said as far as he's concerned, their relationship is beyond repair.

Related information
Elway, coaches try to forget, but nobody's ready to forgive
Reeves vs. Elway just one of many Super Bowl subplots
Falcons finding out what it takes to play in the Big One
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