Who Is Don Shula?
He led the Miami Dolphins to the sole perfect season in NFL history, set the league record with 347 wins, and led in six Super Bowls.
Shula died Monday at his residence on the sting of Biscayne Bay and near downtown Miami, the team reported. He was 90 years old.
“If there was a Rushmore within the NFL, Don Shula’s face would definitely be sculpted on the granite mountain,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said during a statement.
Shula surpassed George Halas’ league-record 324 victories in 1993. He retired following the 1995 season, his 33rd as an NFL head coach. He entered the professional Football Hall of Fame in 1997, and therefore the induction ceremony happened at Canton, Ohio, 70 miles from his native Grand River.
NFL As a Coach
Shula became the sole strategist to steer an NFL team to an ideal season when the 1972 Dolphins ended 17-0. They repeated as Super Bowl champions the subsequent season, going 15-2.
The New England Patriots in 2007 came on the brink of matching the 1972 Dolphins’ feat by winning their first 18 games before losing within the Super Bowl to the NY Giants.
“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” the team said during a statement. “He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and therefore the city of Miami within the national sports scene.”
Calling Shula “one of the best coaches and contributors” within the game, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the coach’s legacy will endure for generations.
“He made a very positive impact on numerous lives. The winningest coach in NFL history and therefore the just one to steer a team to an ideal season, Coach Shula lived an unparalleled football life,” the commissioner said. “He was an interesting teacher and mentor who for many years inspired excellence and exemplified integrity.”
Though he spent several seasons within the NFL as a player — for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins — and served as head coach of the Colts, he’s best known for his quarter-century at the helm of the Dolphins.
During his time coaching Miami, from 1970 to 1995, he won back-to-back Super Bowls within the 1970s.
One of seven siblings, Shula was born in 1930 in Grand River, Ohio, on Lake Erie. His mother, Mary, frowned on young Don playing football, so in 1945 he forged her signature so he could play halfback at Harvey highschool in Painesville.
He played college football at John Carroll University within the Cleveland suburbs and went on to play seven seasons within the NFL before beginning his pro coaching career as defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions.
he Dolphins have honored him with a bronze statue outside Hard Rock Stadium. It features the legendary coach, fist aloft, being carried off the sector by Dolphins players Nick Buoniconti and Al Jenkins after Super Bowl VII in l. a. John Carroll’s Stadium in University Heights, Ohio, and State Road 874 in Miami also bear his name.
Wife, children carry legacy
Shula had five kids together with his first wife, Dorothy Bartish, who died from carcinoma in 1991 at 57 years old. Shula established an eponymous foundation for carcinoma research that very same year. He is survived by his second wife of quite 26 years, Mary Anne, Mary Anne Stephens. They have two sons, and three daughters.
Youngsters Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike. Mike and dave followed their father into a coaching career.
Dave and Mike, his oldest and youngest, became coaches after their rookie seasons as players within the NFL.
Dave work as a coach in wide receivers and quarterbacks for the Dolphins from 1982 to 1988. After joining the staff of the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals. He’s now the wide receivers coach for Dartmouth College.
Mike played quarterback for school powerhouse Alabama, to which he returned as head coach in 2003 after serving on the Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff. he’s now the Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach.
In 2015, Don Shula had the respect of watching his youngest son coach as offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Shula jumped into business after retiring, with steakhouses, a hotel, and a golf club among his portfolio.
Shula’s active retirement included many travel and social events.
In January 2010, the Dolphins threw him an 80th birthday celebration at their stadium, and guests included Goodell, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, and former NFL coaches Marty Schottenheimer and Dan Reeves.
Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka was among the 1972 Dolphins. Who threw a surprise party for Shula in December to celebrate his 90th birthday.
“It was the primary time within the entire time I’ve known him where he was genuinely surprised,” Csonka said. “I think he was very happy.”