Reeves brings order to Giant chaos Coach says he has championship tools

January 27, 1993|By Hank Gola | Hank Gola,New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- The Dan Reeves era began with the new boss talking the talk yesterday. If his New York Giants don't walk the walk, at least they will be toeing the line.

And that's more than you can say about his predecessor.

Ray Handley left Reeves with an aging defense, an offense without an identity and a locker room that lost its respect for the coach. Reeves feels that the new year presents him with the makings of a championship team and the tools to rebuild one.

"What I saw in preparation for the Giants last year is that they're not that far away," Reeves said after agreeing to a five-year deal in excess of $4 million. "You can turn it around awful quick. We went from 5-11 to 11-5 in one year.

"I know this," Reeves said. "I'm coming to a place where I don't have to teach guys how to win. I don't have a time frame. My feeling is we'll come out and compete next year to be in the playoffs and once you get into the playoffs, anything's possible."

George Young could have stepped straight out of an anti-perspirant ad when he introduced Reeves as the franchise's 14th head coach. Having finally bagged his third choice after "no's" from Tom Coughlin and Dave Wannstedt, the general manager may actually have settled for the candidate with the longest resume and with the best chance for restoring order in the locker room.

Whether the wins will follow is largely up to how the Giants go about restocking the team through free agency and the draft.

"I never announced the order," said Young. "All I'm announcing is the winner. It's Dan Reeves. Sincerely, I feel very good about this decision."

Smiling broadly, having been through this at least 10 times, co-owner Wellington Mara observed, "about Dan being a third choice: I remember vividly when the Green Bay Packers were in complete disarray because Forrest Evashevsky turned them down and they had to settle for Vince Lombardi."

"Really and truly, I was my mother's third choice and I don't feel like I was any less loved than the rest of them," Reeves said. "The main thing is that I'm their last choice."

It was Reeves who initiated contact with Young, soon after the Broncos ended his 12-year, three-Super Bowl career in Denver by firing him following an 8-8 season that included a Monday night win over the Giants.

One Denver source described Reeves as someone "hated by the players but someone who could win."

Reeves said he doesn't want to be loved, just respected.

"I'm sure that in the 12 years I was at Denver, not every player agreed with what I did, but every player respected the fact that I was trying to do what was right. That's where respect comes through ... if they know I'm fighting for them to win."

Reeves also said that each Giant will start out with a clean slate.

"I haven't met a lot of them, but I've seen them play and I know there are a lot of good football players," he said. "If anybody's had a hangup with any other coach, then certainly he's going to start over and he has to prove to me that he doesn't want to be a part of this organization."

Reeves, who was the final authority on football decisions in Denver, said that he doesn't mind working under Young.

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