Donald Francis Shula (1930–2020) was an American professional football player and coach. He was the most winning coach in the history of the National Football League (NFL) thanks to his 26 seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, leading them to two Super Bowl win, including the perfect season in NFL history in 1972.
Here we acclaimed sports historian Carlo DeVito to capture the story of one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. He is widely known amongst fans of professional football, particularly the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins.
First distinguishing himself as a player with the Cleveland Browns (under the coaching of the great Paul Brown), Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Colts, Donald Shula continued to be the boy wonder of the NFL as a coach. Following three seasons serving as the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, he was considered as one of the NFL’s toughest units.
Shula was named the youngest head coach in the history of the NFL as he took over the Baltimore Colts in 1963, when he was 33. But after public feuding with owner Carroll Rosenbloom and star quarterback Johnny Unitas, and in spite of leading the team to two NFL championship games, in 1970, Shula accepted to be the head coach of the perennial doormat Miami Dolphins.
Within several seasons, he took the Miami Dolphins to three straight Super Bowls and winning twice, including the only undefeated 1972 Super Bowl championship season behind a bruising running attack caused by two 1,000-yard rushers, Mercury Morris, Larry Csonka, and the unheralded No-Name Defense as well.
With 328 victories, Shula won more games than any other coach in the history of the NFL. He also led his teams to six Super Bowls and only posted a losing record twice in 33 seasons on the sideline. In 1997, he was named in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.