One of the all-time greats has passed away. First reported by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, longtime Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula has died at the age of 90. The Dolphins put out a statement confirming the news.
The Miami Dolphins are saddened to announce that Head Coach Don Shula passed away peacefully at his home this morning. pic.twitter.com/MKAtXFA4zd
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 4, 2020
In a coaching career that spanned 35 years, Shula was one of the greatest football head coaches in history. Amassing 347 coaching wins, Shula remains the winningest head coach in NFL history. To put that in perspective, Bill Belichick still needs 43 wins to catch Shula and Belichick is currently three years older than Shula when he retired in 1995.
While he coached the Baltimore Colts throughout the 1960s, Shula’s mostly known for coaching the Dolphins for 26 seasons. The Dolphins’ run in the 70s was most magical, winning Super Bowls VII and VIII in back-to-back years and capped off Super Bowl VIII with an undefeated season. Shula remains the only person to coach an NFL team through an undefeated season and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
In his 33 seasons as a head coach for the Colts and Dolphins, Shula only had a losing record in 1976 and 1988. Even toward the end of his career, Shula was coaching 10 and 11 win seasons. What that said was Shula wasn’t afraid to adapt to the times. Yeah, he hadn’t won the Super Bowl since the 70s but Shula entered the coaching ranks in a time when it was “three yards and a cloud of dust” and retired when the passing game was becoming the most important part of the game.
In all that time, Shula kept putting out winning seasons and was making the playoffs. That showed the versatility of Coach Shula and someone who was able to not only adapt to the times but look at his team and tweak his own system and coaching philosophy to fit the strengths of the people he coached. That’s what coaching and being a leader is all about, maximizing the strengths of your team to achieve success as a team. That’s what Don Shula brought to the team and he was one of the best.