Florida Gators

Former Gators and USFL Bandits icon John Reaves found dead

(Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire)

Sad news out Tampa, where former Florida Gator, NFL and USFL quarterback John Reaves was found dead in his home Tuesday afternoon. While authorities are still considering it a “death investigation,” they do not suspect foul play involving the 67 year old.

Reaves became a Gators legend throwing for a then NCAA record 7,581 yards in his three year (1969-71) career and was eventually drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1972. He played for four total teams in the NFL over the course of nine seasons without much success.

But, Reaves surged back to prominence in the Tampa Bay area and even nationally, while quarterbacking the Tampa Bay Bandits of the Spring United States Football League from 1983-85. This included a 1984 season where Reaves threw for 4,000 yards and 28 TDs in the regular season that year. He would regularly electrify old Tampa Stadium with the help of WR Eric Truvillon and RB/WR Gary Anderson, as “Bandit Ball” with Steve Spurrier became the pre-cursor to his “Fun-n-Gun” Gators of the 1990’s.

You can read more about Reaves’ accomplishments, his battle with alcohol and some reaction from Spurrier in this article from the Gators official website.

Reaves, who coached briefly with Spurrier at Florida and then with Lou Holtz at South Carolina in the late 90’s, had mostly retired from selling real estate in Tampa in the years after football.

His son, David, was an offensive assistant with USF under Willie Taggart before leaving with Taggart to go to Oregon last December. Unfortunately, the younger Reaves was arrested for DUI  in Eugene and fired a short time later in January.

His daughter Layla was married, but is no longer to current FAU coach and former Alabama offensive coordinator, as well as USC head coach, Lane Kiffin.

Reaves was still very much a beloved figure in Tampa, whether it’s his former Robinson High school friends and alumni, where he led the Knights to a state title game appearance in 1967 or his Gator and/or Bandit fans, locally.

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