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Dan Reeves Biography

Brought First Major Team To West Coast, Hired Coach George Allen, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments


American football executive

One of football's greatest innovators, the American entrepreneur Dan Reeves is credited with bringing the first major sports team to the West Coast. After purchasing the Cleveland Rams in 1941, Reeves moved the team to Los Angeles five years later, paving the way for other Pacific Coast sports teams. Reeves was also the first modern day National Football League (NFL) owner to sign an African American player, halfback Kenny Washington, who joined the Rams in 1946. After the trend setting Reeves established the first full-time scouting staff, other NFL team owners followed suit. A New York-born businessman, Reeves was also known for founding a "Free Football for Kids" program at the Rams' stadium. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in 1967.

Born in New York City on June 30, 1912, Daniel F. Reeves was the son of Irish immigrants James Reeves and Rose Farrell. His father and an uncle, Daniel, had risen from fruit peddlers to owners of a grocery-store chain, bringing wealth to the family. Young Reeves attended the Newman School in Lakewood, New Jersey, where he captained the football team. But rather than desiring to play football professionally, Reeves dreamed of becoming a football team owner. Upon graduating in 1930, he received the Newman School's General Excellence Medal.

Reeves attended Georgetown University but left before completing his degree. He then worked in the family business, and married Mary V. Corroon, a friend of a Georgetown classmate, on October 25, 1935. The pair had six children.

After the family's grocery-story chain merged with Safeway Stores in 1941, twenty-eight-year-old Reeves set out to fulfill his childhood dream of owning a football team. He bid unsuccessfully for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles franchises before purchasing two-thirds of the Cleveland Rams. In addition to this NFL team, Reeves also acquired holdings in an American Professional Football Association team, the Jersey City Giants.

During the Second World War, the sports entrepreneur served as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. Joining the service in 1942, he relocated with his family to army bases in upstate New York. By the following year, a manpower shortage during the war led to a temporary disbanding of the Cleveland Rams franchise. Reeves remained with the army and was promoted to captain before his discharge in 1945. That same year, the Rams took the NFL championship title in a 15-14

Dan Reeves

game against the Washington Redskins. Rookie quarterback Bob Waterfield, who had led the team to victory, was named NFL Player of the Year.

Sketch by Wendy Kagan

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsFootball