The football world is mourning the loss of one of the sport’s greatest ever coaches.
Shula holds the all-time record for NFL wins (regular and postseason) at 347 and total games coached (526, with his head coaching career spanning from 1963 to 1995. Before he coached the Dolphins, Shula was in charge of the Baltimore Colts for seven seasons, winning an NFL championship in 1968 but ultimately losing Super Bowl III to the New York Jets in a massive upset.
When Shula did arrive in Miami in 1970, he instantly turned them from a losing franchise into a perennial contender. After making the playoffs in his first year, he took them to the Super Bowl three straight seasons, losing to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V before triumphing over Washington and the Minnesota Vikings.
Miami made it to two more Super Bowls in the 1980s, although they came up short against Washington and the San Francisco 49ers. For Seattle Seahawks fans, the high point of the team’s run in the AFC was eliminating the Dolphins at Joe Robbie Stadium in the 1983 AFC Divisional Round. It’s the only time the Seahawks had ever won an AFC road playoff game, and Miami would avenge that loss the following season in a blowout.
Shula retired after the 1995 season, and over the last 25 years the Dolphins have not made it past the AFC Divisional Round and have only won three playoff games.
While the 1970s Dolphins offenses were known for their running game, Shula was part of the NFL’s Competition Committee from 1976-1996, and helped oversee the league’s evolution into becoming a passing league. Of course, in the 1980s and 1990s the Dolphins offense was centered around Dan Marino, one of the great quarterbacks in NFL history. He was a truly brilliant coach and his impact on the game was enormous.
Don Shula is survived by his wife and five children, including current Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach Mike Shula.