Don Shula, the NFL’s most winningest coach and the symbol of the Miami Dolphins during their most competitive days in the 1970’s and ’80s, passed away Monday at age 90.
The team said Shula, who guided the 1972 Dolphins to the only undefeated season in NFL history, died “peacefully at his home.”
“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” it read. “He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami in the national sports scene. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Anne along with his children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike.”
Shula set the bar by winning an NFL-record 347 games, including playoff wins. A 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII clinched a 17-0 season, but the Dolphins remained remarkable after that and repeated as champions the next season, beating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII, the third straight title game had Miami played in; the Dolphins lost 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.
The Dolphins played in five Super Bowls total under Shula, including losses to the Redskins (27-17 in Super Bowl XVII) and San Francisco 49ers (38-16 in Super Bowl XIX) in the 1980’s. Only two of his Dolphins teams finished below .500 in 26 seasons.
Shula was an NFL head coach for 33 seasons. Prior to migrating to Miami, Shula coached the Baltimore Colts, who made him the then-youngest NFL coach at age 33. His Colts were on the flip side of Super Bowl III, losing to the underdog New York Jets and quarterback Joe Namath, 16-7. He finished with an overall coaching record of 347-173-6 (73-26-4 with Baltimore). He and George Halas are the only coaches in NFL history to win more than 300 games.
Shula, who played seven seasons in the NFL as a defensive back and had 21 career interceptions with the Browns, Colts and Redskins, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.