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Don Shula defends Colts' decision

In 1972 the Miami Dolphins won their division by seven games and didn’t even have home-field advantage to play for late in the season, because in those days home-field advantage didn’t automatically go to the team with the best record.

But Dolphins coach Don Shula kept striving for perfection all season, and eventually the Dolphins became the only undefeated, untied champions in NFL history.

This year’s Indianapolis Colts have taken a different approach. But Shula, who congratulated the Colts on a great season after they lost Sunday, said today that he doesn’t see anything wrong with the way the Colts handled things.

Shula told guest host Rich Eisen on the Dan Patrick Show that he “was watching with a lot of interest,” and that he thinks the Colts made a valid decision to “make sure they didn’t risk injury to their key players that would hurt them in the playoffs.”

Shula acknowledged that he’s proud of being the only coach in NFL history to lead a team to perfection, and that there’s a part of him that’s happy when he sees the league’s last undefeated team lose each year. But he also praised the Colts as a team good enough to do it.

“They did have a chance to run the table, to go undefeated, and that’s a hard thing to do,” Shula said. “The most important thing, and I learned this a long time ago, is winning the big game at the end of the season.”

The full interview can be heard at DanPatrick.com.

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34 Responses to “Don Shula defends Colts' decision”
  1. mw5225 says: Dec 29, 2009 10:31 AM

    He talked about backup QBs too and if you remember in 1972 Bob Greise got injured mid season and the backup QB had to win some games for the Dolphins too.

  2. CT Pats Fan says: Dec 29, 2009 10:33 AM

    Pathetic! These guys get more pathetic, year after year. Seriously, can SOMEONE please go undefeated in the next few years so we can put a *(17 games) beside their record.

  3. hk94 says: Dec 29, 2009 10:33 AM

    Of course he does. Keep on clinging to relevance, old man.

  4. Kate773 says: Dec 29, 2009 10:34 AM

    Wow, what a shock that he’d defend that decision.

  5. BigEasy33 says: Dec 29, 2009 10:36 AM

    I’m all for pulling Manning to prevent injury but the parameters of the game at the time…Manning wasn’t getting slapped around and they were only up by 5pts….I think it was premature and did not allow them a chance at a historical record!!

  6. Hap says: Dec 29, 2009 10:40 AM

    Of course he did. Now The Colts are not a threat tio their record. Duh.

  7. HarrisonHits says: Dec 29, 2009 10:42 AM

    ROFL of course this nasty jealous old man defends the decision to leave his record intact. They became irrelevant long ago.
    Also, why aren’t all the Pats haters on here pointing out that the Fins cheated by tampering to get Shula, and their undefeated record should be tainted because of it ? They were docked a 1st rounder if I remember correctly for the tampering. Oh wait, that double standard thing is getting in their way.

  8. jeff says: Dec 29, 2009 10:43 AM

    I just don’t understand the hate for these guys?
    They are the only team ever to do it, why wouldn’t they be proud of it?
    What is with some of you people? Seriously.
    Why does society today want to tear down anything that is good? We can’t wait for the next player or celeb to do something stupid.
    Does this somehow make you feel better about yourself?
    So what if they cling to this? If you did something that no one else did, would you want it equaled or beaten? Hell no!
    Grow up people.

  9. BLASTMASTER says: Dec 29, 2009 10:44 AM

    Caldwell’s decision waltzed the Jets into the playoffs. I hope they come out cold and get smashed by whoever they play.
    Hate on the Don all you guys want. Only man to do it and still is. Haters

  10. danfinocchio says: Dec 29, 2009 10:46 AM

    Yeah he’s an old man but he’s an old man who knows a lot more about football than anyone on this site ever will…

  11. d.b.cooper says: Dec 29, 2009 10:49 AM

    Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell get a free steak dinner with all the trimmings at Schula’s Steakhouse!

  12. Terry Hesticles says: Dec 29, 2009 10:57 AM

    That is crazy…he didn’t want the Colts to go undefeated…weird.

  13. if yer not first... says: Dec 29, 2009 10:57 AM

    is it just me or does anybody else think this article is written like it should include pop-up pictures.
    “But Dolphins coach Don Shula kept striving for perfection all season, and eventually the Dolphins became the only undefeated, untied champions in NFL history” popup of morris, greise, et al carrying shula off on their shoulders
    Is PFT getting it’s articles from SI Kids now?

  14. RaiderRedleg says: Dec 29, 2009 11:03 AM

    The record that Don Shula owns as a NFL Head Coach that everyone forgets about is going 21 years (from 1974 to 1995) without winning a Super Bowl.
    That record will NEVER be broken!

  15. pramis123 says: Dec 29, 2009 11:04 AM

    It is so sad and ignorant to see every year people take shots at Coach Shula and the 72 Dolphins for being proud of being the only undefeated team in NFL History. Most people don’t realize all of the hurdles that team had to overcome to achieve that goal, including playing most of the season with their backup QB, playing the playoff games away and the fact that even to this day, those players have never gotten the credit they deserve individually in the hall of fame (the no name defense did not help promote individual talent).
    As far as taking a shot at the Colts for putting more weight on winning the super Bowl than trying to go undefeated, just look back to the Patriots team that went undefeated the entire season, only to lose in the super bowl. It you don’t win the big one at the end of the year, it all goes down the toilet.

  16. mw5225 says: Dec 29, 2009 11:08 AM

    First of all, Shula joined the dolphins in 1970 and went undefeated in 1972 so the tampering thing shouldn’t matter.
    Secondly, have you seen this team? They won all these games with a defense named the “No Name Defense” because they didn’t have any stars and their star QB Griese got injured and didn’t play half the season
    Thirdly, Pats had a chance to do it and couldn’t. Get over it.
    Finally, how can you bash Don Shula?!? He’s a Hall of Fame coach, he won 2 super bowls (The 1973 team was even better than the 1972 team), 4 time coach of the year, and most regular season wins by a head coach at 328!! 328-156. You can’t bash Don Shula, the guy is one of the best NFL coaches of all time

  17. thehoodedone says: Dec 29, 2009 11:15 AM

    There is no longer a record to break for 16-0. You must go 19-0. So really, you must win the super bowl. What’s the point? Look at the perception you all have of the Patriots this year. They lost some games , so they obviously aren’t good anymore. Every team , and the fans of every team, want nothing more than to beat the team that went undefeated in the regular season. Two freakin seasons ago. 2 out of the last 3 weeks I’ve had to listen to players from teams the Pats beat say ” they’ve seen better Pats teams”. I’ve watched coaches cry or dance around like WWE wrestlers after beating the Pats. I’ve witnessed entire cities shut down early to play a regular season game against the Pats. Hell, they even had to play a super bowl in week 2. Colts did the right thing and if your team needed their help to get into the playoffs, be mad at your team for putting themselves in that position. Now you should all be very, very afraid because the games mean as much to the Pats now as they do to everyone else. See you in Miami , biatches.

  18. JaredSlansky says: Dec 29, 2009 11:16 AM

    One thing that seems to be getting lost in all of this 19-0 talk is the colts regular season winning streek which could have been dam near close to unbreakable with two more wins this season and a few to start next season… I’m sure Brett Farve had a few games over his career that he could have sat out but he knew that a reccord lives forever. In a few more decades people will barely remember the Colts… But, what if these Colts went undefeated and won 32 regualr season games in a row with a Super Bowl in the middle… What if they win the Superbowl and go undefeated next season… They could have put themselves into the rarest air in NFL History… This team is Young and doesn’t know what type of streak they cut short… And If I’m the owner I’m thinking about 16-0 merchendise for sale during the playoffs… Hats at the local grocery stor for years… The 72 Dolphins are still selling shirts at the local 7-11 down here and the profit goes towards the 72 team members…

  19. Muck says: Dec 29, 2009 11:28 AM

    Some of you act like Shula came out and proclaimed something. Lest you forget he was ‘asked’ for his opinion. And the fact that he has 347 more wins and 1 more undefeated season than you qualifies it.
    Shoes is one of the classiest guys around.

  20. stanjam says: Dec 29, 2009 11:30 AM

    Sorry Shula, but I disagree. Having a perfect season is something that would be remembered far longer than a superbowl victory, and you know it. Sure I was upset that the Pats didn’t win the Sb in the 2007 season, but I would have been more upset if they hadn’t gone for it. Even though they didn’t win the SB, they will be remembered for the first perfect 16 game season.
    It is all moot anyways, since I doubt the Colts will make it to the Superbowl. The Chargers or the Patriots will likely kill them in the playoffs.

  21. JoeSixPack says: Dec 29, 2009 11:32 AM

    It’s true that the pressure builds with each passing week to have the Perfect Season. Polian may think he’s removed that pressure.
    But now the pressure to win the Super Bowl is even greater than before. Having said “no” to the Perfect Season now there’s an incredible amount of pressure on the Colts to win the Super Bowl.

  22. sonvar says: Dec 29, 2009 11:42 AM

    Of course Don Shula would defend the decision it keeps his team as the only undefeated one.

  23. mw5225 says: Dec 29, 2009 11:44 AM

    Stanjam so you’d take an undefeated regular season over a super bowl cause that makes no sense. The Pats will be remembered for the undefeated season and the super bowl loss. The dolphins will be remembered for an undefeated season and a super bowl win. Plus look at the ’73 team, from 72-73 the Dolphins only lost 2 games and won 2 super bowls. Pretty impressive to lose as many games as super bowls won. Give them some credit here.

  24. danlinker says: Dec 29, 2009 12:04 PM

    The concept of perfection evades young punks that weren’t born until after 1972. It’s not a part of their life on any level yet, so why should we expect them to understand it?
    Best they can come up with is to call Shula “old man”.
    Pull your pants up and get off the skateboard. You can’t all be Bam.

  25. StephenJonesPlease says: Dec 29, 2009 12:12 PM

    @ danlicker
    My dad calls him an ‘old man’.
    (it IS impressive that these old men can use a computer, though. Kudos)

  26. GoBrowns19 says: Dec 29, 2009 12:13 PM

    If me, or any or you, had set a record as being part of the only undefeated champion in NFL history, we’d want that to never be broken as well. I know I’d try and speak out about it if anyone cared to listen…and so would all of you. Lay off the 72 Dolphins…I’m not a dolphin fan, but they SHOULD be proud of their record.

  27. tudefit says: Dec 29, 2009 12:31 PM

    Being proud about the record is one thing. They should be proud. Acting the way he and some of the players from back then act when they start worrying about it being broken is another thing. Records are made to be broken. Get over it. He is tarnishing his reputation pretty much like Favre has his.

  28. SixburghSteelers says: Dec 29, 2009 12:41 PM

    “Don Shula defends Colts’ decision”…..
    NO SH*T, really?!?!?!?
    This guy gets more annoying everytime he opens his “undefeated” mouth!

  29. dsigrey says: Dec 29, 2009 12:51 PM

    Screw Shula… Defends the decision my ass, this is the same guy who was cheering on the Ravens while in the booth on Monday night football. I lost all respect for the man after that. When does a looser go undefeated… when he’s Don Shula.

  30. PFTiswhatitis says: Dec 29, 2009 12:55 PM

    “mw5225 says:
    December 29, 2009 11:44 AM
    Stanjam so you’d take an undefeated regular season over a super bowl cause that makes no sense. The Pats will be remembered for the undefeated season and the super bowl loss. The dolphins will be remembered for an undefeated season and a super bowl win. Plus look at the ’73 team, from 72-73 the Dolphins only lost 2 games and won 2 super bowls. Pretty impressive to lose as many games as super bowls won. Give them some credit here.”
    True and they do deserve tons of credit of course BUT that was an entirely different era of football. The salary cap and other moves by the league to create more balanced competition makes such an achievement much greater in todays NFL. The Colts management cheated Manning and the rest of the Colts players and fans by taking such a great opportunity away from them. Now we will never know if they could have done it. And just imagine the fallout if they get eliminated in the playoffs.
    Remember “It’s not whether you win or lose its how hard you try?” It’s a shame that the Colts couldn’t honor such a basic concept across all sports.

  31. stetai says: Dec 29, 2009 1:20 PM

    I changed my mind. The Colts should’ve kept their starters and although I hate them more than any team in the NFL, I don’t hate them more than I do Don Shula and all of these other bitter old 1972 Dolphins clutching onto their precious season.
    I just hope someone does it soon before they all die knowing they were the only ones to do it.
    Most overrated team of all time: 1972 Miami Dolphins!!!

  32. TheBigOldDog says: Dec 29, 2009 3:56 PM

    Why these guys are still relevant is beyond me. Their record was surpassed by one game. Just like in the future if there is a shortened season of say, 15 games, a team that wins them all will not have matched this old fool’s record.
    The only reason this miserable old fool is still relevant is because the media wants him to be relevant.

  33. SuzyKolberIsAwesome says: Dec 29, 2009 4:13 PM

    shula, the 72 dolphins and the sports media seem fixated on THE PERFECT SEASON, two years ago the patriots went 18-0, and then LOST their last game, the Super Bowl to the giants, 18-0 is better than the 72 dolphins, but because they LOST THEIR LAST GAME, they will NEVER be mentioned as one of the best teams of all-time, … what does it say that a team values WINNING THE SUPER BOWL more than trying to have the perfect season??? could it be that the dolphins and THEIR PERFECT SEASON are becoming IRRELEVANT and they, and the sports media don’t realise it???

  34. SuzyKolberIsAwesome says: Dec 29, 2009 6:23 PM

    speaking of OVER RATED, no one asks Shula about the Colts team he coached in SBowl 3 against the Jets anymore…one of the biggest upsets, and most meaningful games in NFL history…

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