Don Shula

Don Shula

[shoo-luh]
Shula, Don (Donald Francis Shula), 1930-, American football coach, b. Grand River, Ohio. A player at John Carroll Univ. and from 1951 to 1957 with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts, and Washington Redskins of the National Football League, he coached at the universities of Virginia and Kentucky before becoming (1960) an assistant coach with the NFL's Detroit Lions. In 1963 he became the youngest NFL head coach ever, at Baltimore. After posting a 71-23-4 record in seven seasons with the Colts, he moved in 1970 to the struggling Miami Dolphins, a team he transformed so thoroughly that in 1972 they were unbeaten Super Bowl champions, recording the only perfect (17-0) season in NFL history. In all, his teams appeared in six Super Bowls (Baltimore, 1968; Miami, 1971-73, 1982, 1984) and won twice (1972-73). When Shula retired from the Dolphins in 1996, he had coached 328 regular-season and 347 total victories, both professional football records.
Donald Francis Shula (born January 4, 1930 in Grand River, Ohio) is an American former professional football coach for the National Football League. He is best known as coach of the Miami Dolphins, the team he led to two Super Bowl victories, and to the NFL's first and only post-AFL/NFL merger Perfect Season. Shula was named 1993 Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. He currently holds the NFL record for most career wins with 347.

Personal life

Shula grew up in suburban Cleveland, attended St. Mary's and graduating from Harvey High School in Painesville, and then John Carroll University. He played football at both schools, but never started. He earned an associates degree in Physical Education from Case Western Reserve University in 1954. As part of a government public awareness campaign he was the first American to sign up for Medicare Part D prescription drug plan benefits, enrolling just after midnight on November 15, 2005.

Shula was married to Dorothy Bartish from 1958 until her death in 1991. Together they had five children - two of them being former Alabama coach Mike Shula and former Cincinnati Bengals coach Dave Shula. Shula married his second wife, Mary Anne Stephens, in 1993.

Playing career

In 1951 Shula signed with the Cleveland Browns, but rarely got on the field. On March 26, 1953, he was traded to the Baltimore Colts in what was, at that time, the largest NFL player trade ever made, involving 15 players. The Colts traded T Mike McCormack, DT Don Colo, LB Tom Catlin, DB John Petitbon, and G Herschell Forester to the Browns for Shula, DB Bert Rechichar, DB Carl Taseff, LB Ed Sharkey, E Gern Nagler, QB Harry Agganis, T Dick Batten, T Stu Sheets, G Art Spinney, and G Elmer Willhoite. Shula and Taseff were teammates at John Carroll, with the Browns and with the Colts.

Shula played with Baltimore for four seasons before finishing his playing career with the Washington Redskins. In his seven NFL seasons, Shula played in 73 games, intercepted 21 passes and also recovered four fumbles.

Early coaching career

Shula's first coaching position was as a defensive backs coach at the University of Virginia in 1958 where he coached under head coach Dick Voris. He stayed for one season before moving on to the same position at the University of Kentucky in 1959 where he coached under head coach Blanton Collier. In 1960, Shula entered the NFL as defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions.

Shula played under both the aforementioned Paul Brown and Weeb Ewbank, a Brown disciple, who is also in the Hall of Fame. After Ewbank left the Baltimore Colts to coach the New York Jets in 1963, Shula was hired by Colts' owner Carroll Rosenbloom to coach Baltimore. Shula's hiring was controversial because he was thought to be too young at only age 33.

Shula took the controls and led the Colts to an 8-6 record in 1963. He was successful, compiling a 71-23-4 record in seven seasons with Baltimore, but he was just 2-3 in the postseason, including two losses in championship games in which the Colts were heavy favorites, the 1964 NFL championship game won by the Browns 27-0 and Super Bowl III, the game in which Joe Namath of the New York Jets guaranteed and delivered a victory.

The 1965 team lost a special tie breaker playoff game in overtime against the Green Bay Packers while using running back Tom Matte at quarterback because of injuries to John Unitas and his backups. The 1967 team failed to make the playoffs despite a regular season record of 11-1-2.

Miami Dolphins

1970-1973

After the 1969 season, Joe Robbie, owner of the Miami Dolphins, signed Shula to a contract to become Miami's second head coach. As a result of Shula's signing the team was charged with tampering by the NFL, which forced the Dolphins to give their first round pick to the Colts. The decision was controversial because Shula and Robbie's negotiations and signing were conducted before and after the official NFL/AFL merger, respectively. Had the negotiations been concluded before the merger, while the NFL and AFL were rivals, the NFL's anti-tampering rules could not have been applied.

Shula's Miami teams were immensely talented during the 1970s. His teams were known for great offensive lines (led by Larry Little, Jim Langer and Bob Kuechenberg), strong running games (featuring Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Mercury Morris), solid quarterbacking (by Bob Griese and Earl Morrall), excellent receivers (in Paul Warfield, Howard Twilley and TE Jim Mandich) and a defense that worked well as a cohesive unit. In an era when defenses were given fanciful nicknames (for instance, the Dallas Cowboys were known as the "Doomsday Defense", Pittsburgh was called "The Steel Curtain" and the L.A. Rams front line was known as "The Fearsome Foursome") the Dolphins were known as "The No-Name Defense" even though they had a number of great players, including DT Manny Fernandez and MLB Nick Buoniconti.

In 1972 the Dolphins were unbeaten (14-0) in the regular season. They swept the playoffs and finished 17-0.

Post-1973

Shula changed his coaching strategy as his personnel changed. His Super Bowl teams in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1982 were keyed by a run-first offensive strategy and a dominating defense. In 1983, shortly after losing Super Bowl XVII to the Washington Redskins, the Dolphins drafted quarterback Dan Marino out of the University of Pittsburgh. Marino won the starting job halfway through the 1983 regular season, and by 1984 the Dolphins were back in the Super Bowl thanks largely to Marino's record 5,084 yards through the air and 48 touchdown passes.

For all his success, the Dolphins' January, 1974 Super Bowl win over the Minnesota Vikings proved to be Shula's last championship. Despite consistent success in the regular season, Shula was unable to win in the post-season, failing in 12 trips to the playoffs – including two more Super Bowl appearances – before retiring after the 1995 season.

Toward the end of Shula's career, some fans and members of the local media began to speculate that "the game has passed him by." With the change of ownership from Joe Robbie to Wayne Huizenga the pressure to get back to the Super Bowl led to the addition of many high-priced free agents who did not necessarily fit into Shula's systems.

Former Dallas Cowboys and Miami Hurricanes coach Jimmy Johnson wrote in his weekly syndicated newspaper column that the 1995 Dolphins had the talent to be favorites for the Super Bowl. However, this team finished a disappointing 9-7 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Buffalo Bills.

Legacy

Shula set numerous records in his 33 seasons as a head coach. He is the All-Time leader in Victories with 347. He is first in most games coached (526), most consecutive seasons coached (33), and Super Bowl losses (4) (tied with Bud Grant, Dan Reeves and Marv Levy). His teams won seven NFL conference titles: 1964, 1968, 1971-73, 1982 and 1984. Shula's teams were consistently among the least penalized in the NFL, and Shula served on the Rules Committee, to help change the game to a more pass oriented league.

He is honored at the Don Shula Stadium at John Carroll University, and the Don Shula Expressway in Miami. Additionally, an annual college football game between South Florida schools Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University is named the Shula Bowl in his honor. The game's winner receives a traveling trophy named the Don Shula Award.

He has co-authored three books: "The Winning Edge" (1973) with Lou Sahadi ISBN 0525235000, "Everyone's a Coach" (1995) ISBN 0310208157 and "The Little Black Book of Coaching: Motivating People to be Winners" (2001) ISBN 0066621038 both with Kendra Blanchard.

He was inducted into his high school Hall Of Fame in 1997.

Post-coaching activities

In retirement, Shula has lent his name to a chain of steakhouses, Shula's Steakhouse and a line of condiments. He also appears in NutriSystem commercials with Dan Marino and other former NFL players.

Coach Shula's first wife, Dorothy Shula, fought breast cancer for six years. Just before her death in 1991, Coach Shula formed the Don Shula Foundation for the purpose of finding a cure for cancer.

Don Shula remarried on October 16, 1993, to Mary Anne Stephens. In 2007 ads for NutriSystem geared for people age 60 and older featured the 77 year-old Shula and his 61 year-old wife Mary Anne.

In 2007 in Miami at Super Bowl XLI, Shula took part in the Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation.

On March 25, 2007, Shula presented the Winners Cup to Tiger Woods, winner of the 2007 WGC-CA Golf Tournament held at the Doral Resort in Miami.

On February 3, 2008, Shula participated in the opening of Super Bowl XLII.

Controversy

In 2007 Don Shula made a public comment alluding to an asterisk being placed on the Patriots if they were to go undefeated and break his 1972 Dolphins' record, because the Spygate controversy caused the NFL to fine the Patriots and take away a first round draft pick.

References

External links

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