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FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2019, file photo, former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula watches the team before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Miami Gardens, Fla. Shula, who won the most games of any NFL coach and led the Miami Dolphins to the only perfect season in league history, died Monday, May 4, 2020, at his home in Indian Creek, Fla., the team said. He was 90. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Hall of Fame Dolphins coach Don Shula Dies at 90

The football world mourns the loss of a legend. Former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, passed away Monday morning at the age of 90.

FILE – In this Jan. 14, 1973, file photo, Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula is carried off the field after his team won the NFL football Super Bowl game 14-7 against the Washington Redskins in Los Angeles. Shula, who won the most games of any NFL coach and led the Miami Dolphins to the only perfect season in league history, died Monday, May 4, 2020, at his home in Indian Creek, Fla., the team said. He was 90. (AP Photo/File)

Perfection Personified

After playing in the NFL for seven season and serving as an assistant for two seasons, Shula became the head coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1963. He led Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas and the Colts to three playoff appearances, including a trip to Super Bowl III where the team lost to the New York Jets.

In 1970, Shula became the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins were a floundering franchise during its first four years of existence, not having one winning season. With Shula’s arrival, the franchise would be changed forever.

He coached with an unrelenting desire attain perfection no matter what. In just two seasons in Miami, he led the Dolphins to Super Bowl VI. However, the team lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24-3.

The sting of defeat to the Cowboys and Shula’s determination to achieve perfection was the team’s driving force in 1972 as the Miami Dolphins went 17-0, defeating the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII. This feat remains the only time in NFL history where a team completed both the regular season and postseason undefeated.

Shula and the Dolphins returned to the Super Bowl just one year later. They beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII for the team’s second straight world championship.

The Dolphins would make their fourth trip to the Super Bowl under Shula in 1982. Miami fell to the Redskins 27-17 in Super Bowl XVII.

Willingness to Adapt

The mark of a great coach is the ability to adapt to the talent on the roster. In the early 1970s, Shula’s Dolphin teams were fueled by a powerful running game and the strength of “The No Name Defense”.

However, this style for Miami changed in 1983 with Shula’s most praised draft pick: quarterback Dan Marino. With Marino, Shula opened up his offense and let Marino sling the football all over the field. The tandem of Marino and Shula brought the Dolphins back to the Super Bowl in 1984. However, the Dolphins lost to the San Francisco 49ers 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX.

Shula held the record for most Super Bowl appearances with six. He now sits second to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has nine.

All He Does is Win

FILE – In this Nov. 14, 1993, file photo, Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula is carried on his team’s shoulders after his 325th victory, at Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium. Shula, who won the most games of any NFL coach and led the Miami Dolphins to the only perfect season in league history, died Monday, May 4, 2020, at his home in Indian Creek, Fla., the team said. He was 90. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

Despite not reaching the top of the football world with Marino, Shula still experienced sustained success. In 33 seasons as a head coach both in Baltimore and in Miami, Shula had 31 winning seasons. Shula is second all-time with seven AFC Championship Game appearances. Also, Shula holds the third best postseason win total with 19.

He achieved the height of individual accomplishment for a head coach in 1993. Shula became the winningest coach in NFL history with 325 wins in a 19-14 win in Philadelphia over the Eagles. He finished his career with 347.

Shula retired from coaching following the 1995 season. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

His sons, Mike and Dave, both followed his father’s footsteps into coaching. Mike was the Alabama head coach from 2003-2006 and currently serves as the quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos. Dave was the head coach for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1993-1996. He left coaching to help build the Shula’s Steakhouse franchise. Now, he’s the wide receivers coach at Dartmouth.

Reaction

Don Shula will be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history thanks to his professionalism, his constant drive for achieving perfection and the impact he has left on so many lives both on and off the field.

Many of Shula’s former players, Dolphins personnel and members of the NFL community took to social media to offer their condolences to the Shula family.

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