Nobody Epitomized Winning Football Better Than Don Shula
Early this morning, we received the news that Don Shula had passed away peacefully in his home at the age of 90. Although he had not coached an NFL game since 1995, Shula will always be remembered as one of football's greatest minds of all time. He is also the winningest head coach in NFL history with 347 victories over 33 seasons. Although he spent 26 years with the Miami Dolphins, Shula's first seven seasons were with the Baltimore Colts. He was his first NFL Championship in 1968, but the New York Jets upset the Colts 16-7 in Super Bowl III, giving the AFL their first ever postseason win over the NFL. His 1972 Dolphins team is still the only club to ever go undefeated in a season.
"Don Shula will always be remembered as one of the greatest coaches and contributors in the history of our game," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "He made an extraordinarily positive impact on so many lives. The winningest coach in NFL history and the only one to lead a team to a perfect season, Coach Shula lived an unparalleled football life."
When I think about Don Shula's legacy, winning, consistency, and class are the three things that always come to mind. He only had two losing seasons in 33 years as head coach, and he was never involved in any controversy on or off the football field. He absolutely deserves a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of NFL coaches. A great topic for discussion would be who else would make that list? Vince Lombardi, Bill Belichick, George Halas, Bill Walsh, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Bill Parcells, and Paul Brown are all worthy coaches to be included with Shula.
As a Jets fan, some of my fondest memories are against Shula's Dolphins. From their classic "Mud Bowl" playoff game in the 1982 AFC Championship to Dan Marino faking a spike and throwing a touchdown in 1994.