Legendary National Football League coach, Don Shula, was found dead in his Miami Lakes home on May 4 at the age of 90. ‘Shula is survived by his wife, Mary Anne, and his children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike,’ according to Heavy.com. Shula holds the NFL record for most wins with a 347-173-6 record, including playoffs, as a head coach. He previously broke Chicago Bears coach George Halas’ record of 324 wins.
Many NFL organizations released statements of condolences to Don Shula’s family. Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel said in a statement, “Today is a sad day. 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.”
The Miami Dolphins are saddened to announce that Head Coach Don Shula passed away peacefully at his home this morning. pic.twitter.com/MKAtXFA4zd
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 4, 2020
Football Life of Coach Shula
After leaving Harvey High School in Painesville, Ohio in 1947, Don Shula attended John Carroll University in Ohio and played college football for the Blue Streaks. In 1951, he was drafted in the 9th round by the Cleveland Browns. Shula’s pro football career lasted until 1957, as he played defensive back for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts, and Washington Redskins.
After his professional career ended, Don Shula became a college coach for the University of Virginia in 1958. He proceeded to a similar defensive back positional coach at the University of Kentucky in 1958. In 1959, Shula moved to the professional coaching ranks for the Detroit Lions, eventually being the Lions’ defensive coordinator from 1961-1962.
The Baltimore Colts hired Don Shula as head coach in 1963. Shula was only 33 and maintained this position until the Miami Dolphins hired him away from the Colts in 1969. Shula guided the Dolphins from 1970-1995. During the 1972 season, Coach Shula led the Dolphins to a perfect 17-0 record, which included a Super Bowl win over the Washington Redskins. This is the only perfect season in NFL history.
A Coach and a Patriot
Although Don Shula was famously known as a legendary NFL coach, he was also an American patriot. During the Korean War, Shula was a member of the Ohio National Guard and was stationed at Fort Polk in Louisiana. This precluded him from playing a full season in the NFL that year.
In 2010, Coach Shula publicly endorsed Governor Charlie Crist in the Florida Senate primary. Shula said, “Gov. Crist’s conservative policies have kept our taxes low and allowed our businesses to thrive, and he has the character it takes to work first and foremost for his fellow Floridians. Washington needs a leader like Charlie Crist to stand up for Florida in our nation’s capital.”
Coach Don Shula should also be known as ‘Patriot Don Shula.’