He will go down as the greatest coach in Miami Dolphins history, and his legacy as the current winningest coach in the NFL is cemented.
For Don Shula, he died Monday morning peacefully and with family by his side, the perfect way for the family man to slip into eternity.
“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 won a staggering NFL-record 347 games, which includes wins in the postseason.
He was on the sidelines for the only undefeated season in NFL history in 1972 as the Dolphins went 17-0, beating the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII.
The Dolphins repeated as champions the next season, beating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII, the third straight title game Miami had played in; the Dolphins lost 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.
Overall Shula led Miami to five Super Bowls, going 2-3 total, his last coming in 1985 as the Dolphins fell to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49’ers 38-16 in Stanford.
“Today is a sad day,” Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel said in a statement.
“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.”
By the time he resigned as Dolphins coach after the 1995 season, Shula had been an NFL head coach for 33 seasons, 26 with Miami. Only two of his Dolphins teams finished below .500 during those 26 seasons.
He finished with an overall coaching record of 347-173-6 (73-26-4 with Baltimore).
Shula was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. He, George Halas and Bill Belichick are the only coaches in NFL history to win more than 300 games.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Coach Shula. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Mary Anne and their entire family.
The Hall of Fame flag will fly at half staff and we will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations,” Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said in a statement.
John Madden remains as the only great coach of the 1970’s that is still alive. Shula watched as some of his fellow coaches have passed on including Chuck Noll (Pittsburgh), George Allen (Washington), and Tom Landry (Dallas).
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