Legendary coach Don Shula passes away at 90

May 04, 2020

On Monday, Don Shula, the NFL's most winning coach who led the Miami Dolphins to the league's only unbeaten season, died. He was in his 90s.

The Dolphins released a statement stating that Shula died "peacefully in his home."

"Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years," the statement said. "He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami in the national sports scene. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Anne along with his children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike."

Shula has won 347 NFL-record games including playoff games. In 1972, he led the Dolphins to the only unbeaten season in the league (17-0), resulting in a 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

The next season the Dolphins repeated as champions, defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII, the third consecutive championship game Miami had played in; the Dolphins lost 24-3 in Super Bowl VI to the Dallas Cowboys.

In total, Shula led the Dolphins to five Super Bowls, including losses to the Redskins (27-17 in Super Bowl XVII) and 49ers in San Francisco (38-16 in Super Bowl XIX).

"Today is a sad day," said Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel. "Coach Shula was the rare man who exemplified true greatness in every aspect of his life. He will be so missed by so many but his legacy of character and excellence will endure. All my best to Mary Anne and the Shula family."

Shula coached the Baltimore Colts before landing in Miami, who was then the youngest NFL coach when they hired him at age 33. He took the Colts to Super Bowl III, the first championship game to officially be called the "Super Bowl."     Baltimore lost 16-7 to the AFL's New York Jets and Joe Namath.

Shula had been an NFL head coach for 33 seasons, 26 with Miami, by the time he resigned as Dolphins coach after the 1995 season. During those 26 seasons, only two of his Dolphins teams finished below .500. He finished his career with a 347-173-6 coaching record (73-26-4 with Baltimore).

In 1997, Shula was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He and George Halas are the only coaches to win more than 300 games in NFL history.

Shula also spent seven seasons as a defensive back in the NFL after being selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1951 draft's ninth round (110th overall) after playing in college at Cleveland's John Carroll University. His career stats have 21 interceptions for Cleveland (1951-52), Baltimore (1953-56), and Washington (1957) over seven NFL seasons.

He was accompanied by both of his sons into the NFL coaching ranks. Mike Shula is currently the Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach.  From 1992 to 1996 David Shula was head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and he also played with Baltimore for one season in 1981.