He was 90 years old.
“Don Shula has been the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” said the team in a statement. “It brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the dolphins and the city of Miami on the national sports scene.”
By calling Shula “one of the greatest coaches and collaborators” in the game, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the coach’s legacy will last for generations.
“It has had an extraordinarily positive impact on so many lives. The most successful coach in the history of the NFL and the only one to lead a team in a perfect season, coach Shula has lived an unparalleled football life,” said the Commissioner. “He was an extraordinary teacher and mentor who for decades inspired exemplary excellence and integrity.”
Shula survived his 26-year-old wife, Mary Anne, and children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike. Dave and Mike followed their father in training, even becoming assistants on the Dolphin staff.
Although he spent several seasons in the NFL as a player – for Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins – and was head coach of the Colts, he is famous for his quarter-century at the helm of the Dolphins.
During his coaching period in Miami, from 1970 to 1995, he won two Super Bowl in the 70s.
The first of these, after the 1972 season, has set a level that has not yet been achieved by any other team. With the Dolphins’ 14-7 victory over the Redskins in Super Bowl VII, Shula’s team became the first and only team to remain undefeated in a season.
The Dolphins defended their title the following year, beating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VIII after finishing the normal 12-2 season.
Life of records
Shula has trained six Super Bowls throughout his career. In addition to his two wins, his Colts have lost Super Bowl III, while his Dolphins teams have run out of Super Bowls VI, XVII and XIX.
“Being in his presence has always been a special occasion to yank your shoulders with real greatness,” said Jerry Jones, whose Dallas Cowboys beat the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI (although long before Jones bought the team).
“His name and legacy will serve to inspire all the best virtues of sportiness, competition and coaching results for generations to come. There will never be another like him.”
The legendary skipper has only told two losing seasons in his years with the Dolphins. The team no longer enjoys the dominance of the past, claiming only two winning records in the last 14 seasons.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame introduced Shula in 1997. The Hall website features a quote that provides a peek into his humanistic view of his occupation.
“The important thing is not what Don Shula knows or what my assistant coaches know. The important thing is what we can convey to the people we are responsible for. That’s what coaching is: the ability to transmit information,” he said.
Hall president and CEO Don Baker said, “The game has lost one of the greats … Coach Shula was a man who truly loved the game, and I was often moved by the deep respect and affection that was always granted. by the men who played for him. “
Stadium, highway, children bring inheritance
He played college football at John Carroll University on the outskirts of Cleveland and continued to play seven seasons in the NFL before starting his professional coaching career as a defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions.
The Dolphins honored him with a bronze statue outside the Hard Rock Stadium. Features the legendary trainer, the punch raised, brought off the field by Dolphins players Nick Buoniconti and Al Jenkins after Super Bowl VII in Los Angeles. The John Carroll stadium of University Heights, Ohio and State Road 874 in Miami also bears his name.
Shula had five children with his first wife, Dorothy, who died of breast cancer in 1991 at age 57. That same year, Shula created a foundation of the same name for breast cancer research.
Dave and Mike, his oldest and youngest, have become coaches after their beginner seasons as players in the NFL.
Dave trained large receivers and quarterbacks for the Dolphins from 1982 to 1988 before joining the staff of the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals. He is now the coach of large receivers at Dartmouth College.
Mike played quarterback for the Alabama college powerhouse, to which he returned as a coach in 2003 after serving on the staff of Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is now the coach of the Denver Broncos quarterbacks.
In 2015, Don Shula had the honor of watching his younger son coach as an offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Shula went into business after retiring, with a steakhouse, a hotel and a golf club in his wallet.
CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.
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