Dan Reeves to giddy ex-Bulldog: “It’s hard to change Detroit”

They’ve golfed together enough to develop a strong bond. In fact, although Dan Reeves preferred that Matthew Stafford remain at Georgia for his senior season, the former Falcons coach keeps praising the maturity level and the gifted ways of the former Bulldogs quarterback along the way to this weekend’s NFL draft.

“He’s a great person,” said Reeves, owner of a famously honest tongue.

Speaking of which, Reeves is correct to suggest that Stafford has lost his mind. He actually wants to play for the Detroit Lions, the worst pro football team of the past 50 years. The Lions are close to granting Stafford’s wish by selecting him with the first pick in the whole draft.

So why is this brutal?

“It’s hard to change Detroit,” said Reeves, without the hint of a chuckle.

“You can change coaches. You can change owners. I mean, there’s so little difference in winning and losing in the NFL, and one of the big things that teams that I’ve coached have had in Dallas, Denver, Atlanta — and even more so New York — is that people want to live there.

“Nobody wants to live in Detroit.”

I laughed, but Reeves didn’t, and the owner of the famously honest tongue added, “I’m serious. It’s a fact that nobody wants to live there. I mean, there are so many things that go into it. The economy, the weather. What makes a good football team is their ability to work together in the offseason, and that’s not going to happen in Detroit.”

In contrast, much is happening in Atlanta with Reeves’ old franchise that used NFL rookies at general manager, coach and quarterback last season to win 11 games after the Falcons managed only four during the previous season.

That general manager, Thomas Dimitroff, was so efficient that 10 of his 11 picks made the roster and three became starters. He also acquired splendid running back Michael Turner, and Dimitroff’s streak of enlightenment continues. He just traded for star tight end Tony Gonzalez, which is enough to make Reeves’ surgically repaired heart flutter with joy.

“I don’t think you can pass up tight ends, because they’re hard to find,” said Reeves, 65, who expressed his tight-end obsession often during his seven years with the Falcons that included a Super Bowl trip and the Miracle at Green Bay and lasted through the 2003 season. “Reggie Kelly, Alge Crumpler [both tight ends on Reeves' Falcons]. They’re kind of an offensive lineman and a receiver, and that’s a tough combination.

“If I got back into coaching, I’d definitely have me a couple of good tight ends.”

For now, Reeves just talks about tight ends as an NFL analyst on radio. He still lives in Atlanta, where he’ll golf Saturday before he returns home to see what the Falcons do with their 24th and 55th picks overall.

What should they do?

“I really haven’t looked at film and studied guys [like I used to],” said Reeves, who deferred to Dimitroff’s judgment. “Yeah, he has done a great job.”

He’s not in Motown, for instance. Reeves didn’t say that, but he could have.

64 comments Add your comment

Go Braves

April 25th, 2009
7:06 pm

Im not racist, just speak the truth. Its a shame that anyone with the balls to speak the truth is labeled a “racist” or a “uncle tom”

And since when is Terrance Moore a “uncle tom”? I actually enjoy his articles except when he blindly defends the BCS on the Jim Rome show.

Perhaps hes a “uncle tom” to you because he can speak in complete sentences, and dosent have a “crew”? To me, hes a good man with intillegence and morals whos probably been there for his kids.

Which is more than can probably be said for those of you who would blindly label decent, hard working men like him “uncle toms”

I love people that speak the truth like Bill Cosby, and despise fools who blindly destroy their culture like 50 cent. Does that make me a racist? or a realist?


April 25th, 2009
4:13 pm

Dan Reeves should be ashamed of himself for his comments. What an absolutely nasty and hateful thing to say about any city in America. I grew up in the Detroit area and have lived in several states since, and I can say that the people in that area area as good as they come. It’s a great place to live. It’s a great sports town. And the weather? Duh! They’re called seasons. They occur naturally. They allow one to ski and snowmobile and throw snow balls at the heads of unemployed football coaches. I used to have respect for Reeves. No more.


April 25th, 2009
2:42 pm

mike , I agree with you about stafford even though I am dawg fan.

he does have the physical tools ,but he is not a team leader and not a very accurate passer. he reminds me of most other georgia qb’s who never made it in the nfl.


April 25th, 2009
2:39 pm

The story by Mr. Moore is good and Mr. Reeves seems to be a nice guy, but if he is going to say some of those things about the city of Detroit he needs to have more facts. Look at other cities that are cold and have had problems ( Pittsbugh, Washington with Joe Gibbs, etc). The city is not that big of a factor and ownership and coaching is more of a factor. I am a Dallas Cowboy fan and one of the main problems with the Cowboys is that Jerry Jones and family need to get someone with the correct football knowledge as a coach and General Manager. The comments from Go Braves were very much out of line and again without facts. One of the problems in our country is racism and most of it is based on a lack of facts/knowledge.

Mister T

April 25th, 2009
2:36 pm

I think the issue with no one wanting to live in Detroit is more a factor of the weather and the economy. If the car industry were to come back, obviously the economy was enough to make the weather bearable in the 60-80’s. You would think with “global warming” and all that it would be more desirable by now..wink wink.

Mister T

April 25th, 2009
2:33 pm

Coach Reeves is from Americus not Waycross. Still a fine man and was a great coach.

But TM, you used the “famously honest tongue” thing twice. It was wierd the first time and poor the second time. You are better than that.


April 25th, 2009
2:04 pm

gb is a racist a-hole, come out front and mumble those words, punk.


April 25th, 2009
2:03 pm

Enter your comments here


April 25th, 2009
1:34 pm

Isn’t is sad that a sports column brings out such racism? It’s ironic that in most instances, sports has transcended race. Throughout his career at AJC Terrance Moore has suffered remarks and insults that are obviously based solely on his race. Just goes to show how ignorant (and yes, Chief) “stupid” some people really are. And the sad part is, they seem to relish being stupid.


April 25th, 2009
12:19 pm

Follow that logic and premise, and one would have to wonder the success of the Detroit Red WInds, and even Pistons, or Spartans, or Big Blue. And the success of Buffalo, or Green Bay

I would argue that tradition – winning tradition – has more to factor than geography, climate, or economy.

So out Stafford sets, to build that tradition.

Impossible? No. Difficult? yes.

But Stafford has the viosion and determination. He’s on a mission. A trajectory. Has been for over 15 years. That’s what’s gotten him here. And that’s what it’ll take to build a tradition.

Good luck, and good choice Detroit