Don Shula, the legendary NFL coach famous for amassing the most all-time wins, died Monday in Indian Creek, Florida at age 90, Breitbart reported.
The cause of his death was not immediately known, but it was not believed to be related to the coronavirus, according to Breitbart.
Shula became the youngest-ever NFL head coach back in 1963, heading up the Indianapolis Colts until 1970 when he went to the Miami Dolphins where spent the rest of his career — 26 years — until his retirement in 1995.
The Dolphins organization released a statement expressing sorrow at his passing, according to NBC Sports. “Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” the team said. “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.”
Storied NFL coaching career
When he retired in 1995, Shula had notched 328 regular season wins, which remains the NFL record today, the Miami Herald reported. He also holds the record for most games coached at 526 and most overall victories at 347, which included 19 postseason victories.
Shula took the Dolphins to the Super Bowl in 1971 (they lost), and he led them to victory in 1972’s championship game, also coaching the league’s only perfect 17-0 season. He coached three Hall of Fame quarterbacks during his coaching career: Johnny Unitas at Baltimore as well as Bob Griese and Dan Marino at Miami.
In total, Shula went to the Super Bowl five times, but he only won once, making his record of career victories all the more remarkable.
Life after football
According to The New York Times, Shula was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. Two of his sons also went on to become NFL head coaches; Dave at age 32, one year younger than his dad was at the start of his coaching career.
After his retirement, Shula started a chain of popular steakhouses and appeared in ads for Nutrisystem, Ford, and Medicare Part D. He traveled and enjoyed time with his grandkids, the Miami Herald reported.
Shula was known for working players hard, for his intensity on and off the field, and for a brand of toughness balanced with integrity.
The coaching legend’s family is making plans to hold a private funeral, but said they will need to postpone a public memorial for fans until the country is again able to gather in large groups. Schula’s former team also plans to honor the great long-time coach in a public fashion.
“I know we will do something; we’re just not sure what,” said former Dolphins receiver Nat Moore, now the team’s senior vice president of special projects and alumni relations. “Without a doubt, the legacy of Don Shula will last forever, and we — and when I say ‘we’ I’m speaking not only of the alumni but also the Miami Dolphins — will figure out the best way to honor him.”