American Football Wiki
Don Shula
Career information
Position:  Head coach
Personal information
Born:  January 4, 1930
 Grand River, Ohio
Died:  May 4, 2020 (age 90)
Listed height:  5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Listed weight: 190 lbs (86 kg)
National Football League Debut
Debut: 1951 for the Cleveland Browns
Last season: 1957 for the Washington Redskins
Coaching career
Overall Record: 328–156–6
Best Record:  14-0 (1972)
Championships:  2 (VII, VIII)
Career:  1958-1995
Playing career
High school:  Harvey (OH)
College:  John Carroll
NFL Draft:  1951 / Rnd: 9 / Pck: 110th
Position:  Defensive back
Career:  1951-1957
Career history
Career highlights and awards
As coach
  • Super Bowl champion (VII, VIII)
  • NFL champion (1968)
  • AP NFL Coach of the Year (1964, 1967, 1968, 1972)
  • Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year (1993)
  • NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • NFL 1970s All-Decade Team
  • Miami Dolphins Honor Roll
Don Shula
Personal Information
Head Coach
Jersey #(s)
96, 44, 25, 26
Born Donald Francis Shula
(1930-01-04)January 4, 1930
in Grand River, Ohio, U.S.
Died May 4, 2020(2020-05-04) (aged 90)
in Miami Lakes, Florida
Career information
Year(s) 19511957
NFL Draft 1951 / Round: 9 / Pick: 110
College John Carroll
Professional teams

As Player:

As coach:

Career stats
Win-Loss Record 328–156–6
Winning % .678
Games 490
Stats at
Coaching stats at
Career highlights and awards

  • Super Bowl champion (VII, VIII)
  • AFC Championship winner (1971, 1972, 1973, 1982, 1984)
  • NFL Championship winner (1968)
  • 14× Division title winner
  • Most regular-season wins (328)
  • Most Super Bowl appearance as Head coach (6)
  • 328–156–6 (Regular season)
  • 19–17 (Post season)
  • 347–173–6 (Overall)
  • 4 time NFL Coach of the Year
  • NFL 1970s All-Decade Team

Donald Francis "Don" Shula (January 4, 1930 – May 4, 2020) was an American football coach and player.

He was best known as coach of the Miami Dolphins, the team he led to two Super Bowl victories, and to the National Football League's only perfect season. Shula was named 1993 Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. He currently holds the NFL record for most career wins with 347. Shula only had two losing seasons in his 36-year career.


Personal life

Born in Grand River, Ohio, Shula grew up in suburban Cleveland, attended St. Mary's and graduated from Harvey High School in Painesville, and then John Carroll University. He played football at both schools, but never started. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Physical Education from Case Western Reserve University in 1954.[1]

Playing career

In 1951, Shula signed with the Cleveland Browns as a defensive back, though he would later rarely see time on the field. On March 26, 1953, he was traded to the Baltimore Colts in what was, at that time, the largest NFL player trade ever made, involving 15 players. The Colts traded T Mike McCormack, DT Don Colo, LB Tom Catlin, DB John Petitbon, and G Herschell Forester to the Browns for Shula, DB Bert Rechichar, DB Carl Taseff, LB Ed Sharkey, E Gern Nagler, QB Harry Agganis, T Dick Batten, T Stu Sheets, G Art Spinney, and G Elmer Willhoite. Shula and Taseff were teammates at John Carroll, with the Browns and with the Colts.

Shula played with Baltimore for four seasons before finishing his playing career for one season with the Washington Redskins. In his seven NFL seasons, Shula played in 73 games, intercepted 21 passes and also recovered four fumbles.

Early coaching career

Shula's first coaching position was as a defensive backs coach at the University of Virginia in 1958 where he coached under head coach Dick Voris. He stayed for one season before moving on to the same position at the University of Kentucky in 1959 where he coached under head coach Blanton Collier. In 1960, Shula entered the NFL as defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions.

Shula played under both Paul Brown and Weeb Ewbank, a Brown disciple, who is also in the Hall of Fame. After Ewbank left the Baltimore Colts to coach the New York Jets in 1963, Shula was hired by Colts' owner Carroll Rosenbloom to coach Baltimore. Shula's hiring was controversial because he was thought to be too young at only age 33.

Shula took the controls and led the Colts to an 8–6 record in 1963. He was successful, compiling a 71–23–4 record in seven seasons with Baltimore, but he was just 2–3 in the postseason, including two losses in championship games in which the Colts were heavy favorites, the 1964 NFL championship game won by the Browns 27–0 and Super Bowl III, the game in which Joe Namath of the New York Jets guaranteed and delivered a victory.

The 1965 team lost a special tie-breaker playoff game in overtime against the Green Bay Packers while using running back Tom Matte at quarterback because of injuries to Johnny Unitas and his backups. The 1967 team failed to make the playoffs despite a regular season record of 11–1–2, losing the Coastal Division on a tiebreaker due to an 0–1–1 record vs. the Los Angeles Rams. The Colts' only loss was a 34–10 setback to the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on the final Sunday of the season.

Head coaching career

Miami Dolphins


After the 1969 season, Joe Robbie, owner of the Miami Dolphins, signed Shula to a contract to become Miami's second head coach. As a result of Shula's signing the team was charged with tampering by the NFL, which forced the Dolphins to give their first round pick to the Colts.[2] The decision was controversial because Shula and Robbie's negotiations and signing were conducted before and after the official NFL/AFL merger, respectively. Had the negotiations been concluded before the merger, while the NFL and AFL were rivals, the NFL's anti-tampering rules could not have been applied.

Shula's Miami teams were known for great offensive lines (led by Larry Little, Jim Langer and Bob Kuechenberg), strong running games (featuring Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Mercury Morris), solid quarterbacking (by Bob Griese and Earl Morrall), excellent receivers (in Paul Warfield, Howard Twilley and TE Jim Mandich) and a defense that worked well as a cohesive unit.

Pittsburgh was called "The Steel Curtain" and the L.A. Rams front line was known as "The Fearsome Foursome". The Dolphins were known as "The No-Name Defense" even though they had a number of great players, including DT Manny Fernandez and MLB Nick Buoniconti.

In 1972 the Dolphins were unbeaten in the regular season, 14–0–0. They swept the playoffs and finished 17–0–0.


Shula changed his coaching strategy as his personnel changed. His Super Bowl teams in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1982 were keyed by a run-first offensive strategy and a dominating defense. In 1983, shortly after losing Super Bowl XVII to the Washington Redskins, the Dolphins drafted quarterback Dan Marino out of the University of Pittsburgh. Marino won the starting job halfway through the 1983 regular season, and by 1984 the Dolphins were back in the Super Bowl thanks largely to Marino's record 5,084 yards through the air and 48 touchdown passes.

For all his success, the Dolphins' January, 1974 Super Bowl win over the Minnesota Vikings proved to be Shula's last championship. Despite consistent success in the regular season, Shula was unable to win in the post-season, failing in 12 trips to the playoffs—including two more Super Bowl appearances—before retiring after the 1995 season.

His retirement following that regular season ended one of the greatest coaching legacies in NFL history. He set numerous records in his 33 seasons as a head coach. He is first in most games coached (526), most consecutive seasons coached (33), and Super Bowl Appearances—six, appearing once with the Baltimore Colts and five times with the Miami Dolphins. Shula had a 2-4 record in his six Super Bowl appearances.

Shula was the head coach of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who finished a perfect 17-0 and won the Super Bowl VII 14-7 over the Washington Redskins. Shula's 1973 team repeated as NFL champions, winning the 1974 Super Bowl over the Minnesota Vikings. The following season the Dolphins seemed destined to win a third title in three years, but the Dolphins fell to the Oakland Raiders 28-26, in an AFC divisional playoff game in one of the greatest games ever played. With 35 seconds remaining in the game, Kenny Stabler was in the process of being sacked by Vern Den Herder. Just before he was tackled, he threw a completed desperation forward pass to his running back Clarence Davis in the game's final moments, and in doing so ended Miami's mini dynasty. The Dolphins team was decimated the following season by the creation of the now defunct World Football League and the loss of three of its star players—Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Paul Warfield—to the rival league. The Dolphin franchise has never been able to duplicate the success of those magical four years between 1971-74.

Post-coaching activities

In retirement, Shula has lent his name to a chain of steakhouses, Shula's Steakhouse[3] and a line of condiments.[4] He appeared in NutriSystem commercials with Dan Marino and other former NFL players.


Shula was married to Dorothy Bartish from 1958 until her death from breast cancer in 1991. Together they had five children — including former Alabama coach Mike Shula and former Cincinnati Bengals coach Dave Shula. In 1991, The Don Shula Foundation for breast cancer research was founded.[5]

He remarried on October 16, 1993, to Mary Anne Stephens. On November 25, 1996 he was added to the Miami Dolphin Honor Roll. In 2007 ads for NutriSystem geared for people age 60 and older featured then-77-year-old Shula and his 61 year-old wife Mary Anne.[6]


As part of a government public awareness campaign he was the first American to sign up for Medicare Part D prescription drug plan benefits, enrolling just after midnight on November 15, 2005.

In 2007, in Miami at Super Bowl XLI, Shula took part in the Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation.[7] On March 25, 2007, Shula presented the Winners Cup to Tiger Woods, winner of the 2007 WGC-CA Golf Tournament held at the Doral Resort in Miami. On February 3, 2008, he participated in the opening of Super Bowl XLII.

In 2011, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of his humanitarian efforts.


Shula set numerous records in his 33 seasons as a head coach. He is the All-Time leader in Victories with 347. He is first in most games coached (526), most consecutive seasons coached (33), and Super Bowl losses (4, tied with Bud Grant, Dan Reeves and Marv Levy). His teams won seven NFL conference titles: 1964, 1968, 1971–73, 1982 and 1984. Shula's teams were consistently among the least penalized in the NFL, and Shula served on the Rules Committee, to help change the game to a more pass oriented league. He had a winning record against every coach he ever faced except Levy, against whom he was 5–14 during the regular season and 0–3 in the playoffs.

Shula is honored at the Don Shula Stadium at John Carroll University, and the Don Shula Expressway in Miami. An annual college football game between South Florida schools Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University is named the Shula Bowl in his honor. The game's winner receives a traveling trophy named the Don Shula Award. On January 31, 2010 a statue of him was unveiled at Sun Life Stadium.


He has co-authored three books: The Winning Edge (1973) with Lou Sahadi ISBN 0525235000, Everyone's a Coach (1995) ISBN 0310208157 and The Little Black Book of Coaching: Motivating People to be Winners (2001); ISBN 0066621038, both with Kendra Blanchard.

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
BAL 1963 8 6 0 .571 3rd in Western Conference - - - -
BAL 1964 12 2 0 .857 1st in Western Conference 0 1 .000 Lost to Cleveland Browns in NFL Championship Game.
BAL 1965 10 3 1 .769 2nd in Western Conference 0 1 .000 Lost to Green Bay Packers in Western Conference Playoff.
BAL 1966 9 5 0 .643 2nd in Western Conference - - - -
BAL 1967 11 1 2 .917 2nd in Coastal Division - - - -
BAL 1968 13 1 0 .929 1st in Coastal Division 2 1 .667 Won 1968 NFL Championship. Lost to New York Jets in Super Bowl III.
BAL 1969 8 5 1 .615 2nd in Coastal Division - - - -
BAL Total 71 23 4 .755 2 3 .400
MIA 1970 10 4 0 .714 2nd in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Oakland Raiders in AFC Divisional Game.
MIA 1971 10 3 1 .769 1st in AFC East 2 1 .667 Lost to Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.
MIA 1972 14 0 0 1.000 1st in AFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl VII Champions.
MIA 1973 12 2 0 .857 1st in AFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl VIII Champions.
MIA 1974 11 3 0 .786 1st in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Oakland Raiders in AFC Divisional Game.
MIA 1975 10 4 0 .714 2nd in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1976 6 8 0 .429 3rd in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1977 10 4 0 .714 2nd in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1978 11 5 0 .688 2nd in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Houston Oilers in AFC Wild-Card Game.
MIA 1979 10 6 0 .625 1st in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Divisional Game.
MIA 1980 8 8 0 .500 3rd in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1981 11 4 1 .733 1st in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to San Diego Chargers in AFC Divisional Game.
MIA 1982* 7 2 0 .778 1st in AFC East 3 1 .750 Lost to Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII.
MIA 1983 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Seattle Seahawks in AFC Divisional Game.
MIA 1984 14 2 0 .875 1st in AFC East 2 1 .667 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XIX.
MIA 1985 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Championship Game.
MIA 1986 8 8 0 .500 3rd in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1987 8 7 0 .533 3rd in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1988 6 10 0 .375 5th in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1989 8 8 0 .500 2nd in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1990 12 4 0 .750 2nd in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to Buffalo Bills in AFC Divisional Game.
MIA 1991 8 8 0 .500 3rd in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1992 11 5 0 .688 1st in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to Buffalo Bills in AFC Championship Game.
MIA 1993 9 7 0 .563 2nd in AFC East - - - -
MIA 1994 10 6 0 .625 1st in AFC East 1 1 .500 Lost to San Diego Chargers in AFC Divisional Game.
MIA 1995 9 7 0 .563 3rd in AFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Buffalo Bills in AFC Wild-Card Game.
MIA Total 257 133 2 .659 17 14 .548
Total[8] 328 156 6 .678 19 17 .528

*57-day long players' strike reduced the 1982 season from a 16-game schedule per team to 9


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