Don Shula passes at 90

Don Shula
Getty Images

Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, has died. He was 90.

“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” the team said in a statement confirming Shula’s passing. “He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami on the national sports scene. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Anne along with his children, Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike.”

A ninth-round pick out of John Carroll in 1951, Shula played defensive back for the Browns, Colts, and Washington through 1957.

He returned to the NFL in 1960, as the Lions’ defensive coordinator. Three seasons later, the Colts hired Shula to serve as head coach.

After the 1969 season, Shula signed to coach the Dolphins, with Miami giving up a first-round pick after the Colts charged Miami with tampering. It was nevertheless a great investment; the Dolphins went to the Super Bowl to cap the 1971 season (losing to the Cowboys), crafted the NFL’s only 17-0 season in 1972, and won another Super Bowl the next year.

The Hall of Famer remained the head coach in Miami through 1995, winning the coach of the year award four times. Shula finished with 328 regular-season wins and 19 playoff victories. His regular-season winning percentage translates to a victory rate of more than two out of every three games played.

We extend our condolences to Coach Shula’s family, friends, and colleagues.

81 responses to “Don Shula passes at 90

  1. Truly not only one of the best coaches of all time, but one of the best persons of all time.

  2. RIP GOAT!

    Who else could have a perfect season with a backup QB and go 32-2 over 2 years?

    That’s right, NO ONE!

  3. My wife is a Dolphins fan because she always loved Don Shula. She always liked him when he was the Colts head coach before that.
    He was an excellent head coach and a good man. Rest in peace, Don.

  4. This has turned into a sad day for me. My most favorite coach of all time. Love you Coach Shula. Thanks for all you have done. RIP.

  5. I lost my dad 2 months ago to this god awful disease and it was 10+ years of living hell for him and our family and friends, beyond anything imaginable until you see it first hand, so I can sympathize with this. No one should have to suffer through that for so many years.

    RIP

  6. Had one of the best coaching quotes I ever heard…”You adapt your system to fit the players you have.”

    Not many coaches are brave enough to do that in today’s NFL.

  7. One of the only successful coaches whose career spanned multiple NFL eras. Truly remarkable and virtually unique.

  8. Very sorry to see this; Shula’s was a life well-lived. Well done, and rest in peace, coach.

  9. Even as a Buffalo Bills fan that once considered the Dolphins an arch-rival in the 90’s, this makes me sad. Don Shula was a great coach and a good man.

    I dread the day when Marv Levy passes away. That day I’ll unfortunately understand the pain that Dolphins fans are feeling right now.

    My condolences to the Dolphin Nation.

  10. Coach Shula didn’t look well the last few public appearances and you just knew this sad day was coming. I was at Sunday mass some 35 years ago and looked the row behind me to see Coach Shula look up back to me and smile. He made a point to shake my hand after mass was over. Not sure why… but it feels like it was yesterday. R.I.P. Coach.

  11. God Speed Coach. Arguably the Greatest Coach of All-Time but definitely The Winningest.
    Dolphins haven’t been the same since he “resigned.”

  12. For sure one of the greatest John Carroll Blue Streaks football players of all time.

  13. GoodellMustGo says:
    May 4, 2020 at 10:35 am
    Pop the champagne! 😀
    =============
    I assume you meant this comment in the tradition of an Irish Wake, as a celebration of his life…

  14. So sorry to hear this. I knew Coach Shula as I got to work with him about 13 years ago. He was our spokesman for Hear USA hearing aids. I had the chance to talk with him about his career and memories as a coach. He was still upset about the game when the Patriots used a plow to remove snow so they could kick a field goal to beat the Dolphins and the choice words he had for Patriots coach Ron Meyer after the game. A very nice person. RIP Coach!

  15. One of the best ever. I can’t believe he didn’t win a Super Bowl with Dan Marino. A very humble and classy guy but a fierce competitor. Condolences to all who knew and loved him.

  16. Coach Shula… I remember where I was as a kid when you retired and today’s news was 3 times as painful. 90 Y/O is a wonderful life… We will pop the champagne every year and pour one extra glass for you coach… God Speed sir…

  17. Kolo Jezdec says:
    May 4, 2020 at 11:30 am

    GoodellMustGo says:
    May 4, 2020 at 10:35 am
    Pop the champagne! 😀
    =============
    I assume you meant this comment in the tradition of an Irish Wake, as a celebration of his life…
    –————
    But he wasn’t Irish. His mom and dad were of Hungarian origin. Rest in peace Mr. Shula.

  18. One of the greatest, if not the greatest, of all time. In addition to most wins lifetime over a head coaching career that started when he was 33, and the all time record holder for wins, he is the only head coach to take his team to Super Bowls in three different decades.

    Great post that captured his quote about adapting his system to his players. Only the greatest of the great can do that and achieve his sustained level of success (only TWO losing seasons in 33 years!!)

    RIP Coach Shula, and condolences to the Shula family and to Baltimore Colts, and Miami Dolphins Nations!

  19. RIP Coach, loved back in the day, the Bills vs the Dolphins, two great coaches going at it. Both had great teams when they had Kelly and Marino, miss those day. Coach Shula was a great one, a very classy guy!!

  20. Coach Shula is a pillar to the game of football. What a tremendous loss for the NFL. Praying for his family and the members of his 1972 team.

  21. Big mistake when he was fired by Colts (then “traded” after tampering charge). Have to be up there with greatest trades ever (if not the single greatest). 25 years of high level coaching (highest) for a first rounder. All-time fleecing.

  22. A lot of us weren’t even alive early enough to witness the glory days of the Dolphins. I know KC had a part to play (on the losing end) to the longest playoff game ever, and to think day we still hear the legend of the 72 Dolphins. He’ll forever be on the NFL’s Mt Rushmore, RIP coach

  23. If he was so great how come he couldn’t win a single Superbowl with the second greatest quarterback of the 1980s behind only Joe Montana?

  24. People forget but arguably Shula’s greatest season in the NFL was his season as a Redskins cornerback. So many all time greats were part of the Redskins storied history — Shula, Lombardi, Gibbs etc. It is an amazing franchise.

  25. Not only a great coach, but great at maintaining winning streaks with his Baltimore and Miami teams … after an opening day loss in 1964, the Colts reeled off 12 straight victories before losing their final two games of the season, including the championship game …

    In 1967 led the Colts to an 11-0-2 record before losing the final game of the season. His first flirtation with a perfect season …

    In 1968, after a loss to the Browns, the Colts won 10 straight games before peaking and losing Super Bowl III …

    Of course finally perfect in 72 Season …

    Also had I think had an 11 game winning streak in 73 … before winning the SB

  26. The Man was pure class and ALWAYS played within the rules. His teams always played clean, hard, straight up football. I only heard him say ONE negative thing about another person. When asked about Bill Belichick in 2007. He referred to him as Beli-Cheat and his record in New England would always be questioned by everyone outside of the Northeast. I still agree with that quote. RIP Coach Shula.

  27. RIP Don Shula! Actually shook hands with him in church on vacation down in Florida when I was a young man.

  28. kansascitydolfan62 says:
    May 4, 2020 at 1:32 pm
    The Man was pure class and ALWAYS played within the rules.

    —-

    I didn’t realize the rules allowed for watering the field to slow down faster teams….

  29. I will say, I don;t miss his use of the Competition Committee presence for like 30 years. He used that platform to cheat for many years as others have since. He all but invented it.

    His last 2 decades were marred with some pretty mediocre seasons with one of the greatest QBs ever just sitting there.

  30. I think people who bring in Belichick today just to insult the man are showing a real lack of class.

    People complain that Pats fans “make everything about the Pats” but the Pats haters are the ones doing this today.

  31. R.I.P.

    Great coach. Class act.

    Shula is also the source of my favorite Bar Bet Trivia Question:

    Shula won 19 playoff games vs 17 playoff losses and coached until 1995.

    QUESTION: What was the last ROAD Playoff game that Don Shula won?*

    * Super Bowls are neutral site

  32. He referred to him as Beli-Cheat and his record in New England would always be questioned by everyone outside of the Northeast.

    ===========================

    If someone makes comments like that, they are demonstrating the opposite of “class.”

  33. I always looked forward to seeing the Raiders play Shula’s Dolphins during the ’70s and ’80s. John Madden & Tom Flores had a combined record of 14-6 against Shula.

  34. Won with Morrall, won with Unitas, won with Griese, won with Marino. Won with Don Strock and David Woodley. Shula improvised, adapted, overcame!

    #1 Coach in NFL History in my book-

    Rest In Peace, Coach!

  35. araidersfan says:
    May 4, 2020 at 4:45 pm
    I always looked forward to seeing the Raiders play Shula’s Dolphins during the ’70s and ’80s. John Madden & Tom Flores had a combined record of 14-6 against Shula.

    8 5 Rate This

    ————-

    his main flaw, outside of him being a huge fan of himself, was he had s pretty bad overall in big games like dungy:

    Most losses by a head coach in the Super Bowl: 4, tied with Bud Grant (MIN), Marv Levy (BUF) and Dan Reeves (DEN).
    Longest amount of time to be shutout in a Super Bowl: his team didn’t score until there was only 3:19 left in Super Bowl III.
    Fewest points scored in a Super Bowl by any team: his team managed only one field goal in Super Bowl VI.
    Fewest points scored in the second half of a Super Bowl: his team put up 0 second half points an astonishing 4 times (Super Bowls VI, VII, XVII, and XIX).

  36. whispersd says:
    May 4, 2020 at 3:14 pm
    I think people who bring in Belichick today just to insult the man are showing a real lack of class.

    People complain that Pats fans “make everything about the Pats” but the Pats haters are the ones doing this today.

    ————————-
    And yet here you are bringing in Belichick to the conversation. Are you a Pats fan?

  37. tylawspick6 says:
    May 4, 2020 at 9:01 pm
    araidersfan says:
    May 4, 2020 at 4:45 pm
    I always looked forward to seeing the Raiders play Shula’s Dolphins during the ’70s and ’80s. John Madden & Tom Flores had a combined record of 14-6 against Shula.

    8 5 Rate This

    ————-

    his main flaw, outside of him being a huge fan of himself, was he had s pretty bad overall in big games like dungy:

    Most losses by a head coach in the Super Bowl: 4, tied with Bud Grant (MIN), Marv Levy (BUF) and Dan Reeves (DEN).
    Longest amount of time to be shutout in a Super Bowl: his team didn’t score until there was only 3:19 left in Super Bowl III.
    Fewest points scored in a Super Bowl by any team: his team managed only one field goal in Super Bowl VI.
    Fewest points scored in the second half of a Super Bowl: his team put up 0 second half points an astonishing 4 times (Super Bowls VI, VII, XVII, and XIX).

    The Dolphins didn’t allow the Redskins to score until there was 2:38 left in the 4th quarter of Super Bowl VII. Even then it was only Garo Yepremian’s pass attempt on his blocked field goal that allowed them to score, otherwise it would have more than likely been a shutout. The defense shutout the Redskins and the following year shout out the Vikings until the 4th quarter in SB VIII.

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