Former NFL player and coach Dan Reeves, spoke to the cadets at Riverside Military Academy about character development and leadership on Wednesday morning.
Reeves, who coached or played in nine Super Bowl games, including the Atlanta Falcons’ trip to Super Bowl XXXIII, said it was Riverside football coach Gary Downs, who played under Reeves with the Falcons, who called and set up the speaking engagement.
“Gary Downs asked me if I would be willing to come up and speak, and talk to (the cadets) about leadership, and about character,” Reeves said. “Those were things I stressed all the time as a coach ...You want to do a good job.
You want to (hopefully) give these young men something they can look at and take and learn from it, and say ‘you know, those things helped shape the way I am.’
“You know, I look back on my life, and really and truly the coaches I had in my life are the ones that really shaped me. This is a great opportunity for me to come speak to a group of young men.”
Reeves told the cadets stories about his life, and his playing and coaching days from the NFL. Specifically, he highlighted words from former Cowboys head coach, Tom Landry.
“Coach Landry used to tell us that every game that you play is a teaching and learning experience. If we win, we do the teaching. If we lose, we do the learning.
“I learned an awful lot from Coach Landry, who was not only a great coach, but a great role model,” Reeves said, who told the cadets that Landry asked him to become a player-coach while he was still playing with the Cowboys, and that’s how he got into coaching.
Reeves also stressed the importance of learning during adversity, and he told the cadets that they’re never too old to learn how to help someone else during those times. He specifically talked about the seven-game losing streak he endured while coaching the New York Giants, and how he helped his players during preparation, and how they began to help him.
“You can learn things to help motivate people,” Reeves said. “You’re never get to old to learn what those things are.”
Before leaving the stage, Reeves expressed his admiration for the U.S. armed forces, and told a story about one of his closest friends, who was a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps who was injured during the Vietnam War, and the adversity that he’s overcome in life.
Then, Reeves left the cadets with words from a plaque that was made for his friend from those who had served along side him in Vietnam. Those words became a challenge issued to the cadets from Reeves.
“‘In this world, we give and take,” Reeves said. “There aren’t enough people that are willing to give what it takes. I think that’s one of the things you want to look at and ask yourself, ‘are you one of those ones that’s willing to give?’ Are you willing to give, or are you one of those ones that’s wanting to take? I challenge you to be one of those that’s willing to give what it takes.”