On July 26, 1997, Don Shula capped an illustrious career when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in what was his first year of eligibility. Shula’s unanimous election to the Hall was the ultimate honor in a career full of record-setting accomplishments. Read More >
Shula’s record as head coach of the Dolphins (1970-95), and before that as head coach of the Baltimore Colts (1963-69), is unmatched in National Football League history. With 347 career wins, he remains NFL’s winningest coach. He and George Halas are the only NFL coaches to win 300 or more career games. Shula became the youngest head coach in NFL history when he was named head coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1963 at 33 years old. His teams reached the playoffs a remarkable 20 times in 33 seasons. Equally extraordinary, he only recorded two losing seasons in his entire storied career.
Alongside his regular season success, Shula won Super Bowl titles in 1972 and 1973, one of only five coaches in NFL history to win consecutive Super Bowls. His 1972 team went 17-0, recording the only undefeated season in NFL history. He has appeared in more Super Bowls (six) than any other coach, and is one of only two coaches (along with Buffalo’s Marv Levy) to reach the Super Bowl three straight seasons. Shula also advanced to the Super Bowl with the Dolphins in 1982 and 1984, as well as in 1968 as head coach of the Colts.
Shula broke into the NFL as the lone rookie on Coach Paul Brown’s defending NFL champion Cleveland Browns in 1951. He was involved in the largest trade in modern NFL history, a 15-player deal with Baltimore in 1953, and Shula played four seasons with the Colts (1953-56) and one season at Washington (1957) at right cornerback. He had 21 career interceptions for 247 yards in seven seasons. He starred as a running back at John Carroll University in Cleveland, and in 1950 he gained 125 yards when the Blue Streaks upset Syracuse, 21-15.
Shula also contributed to the growth of the NFL off the field by serving on the league’s influential Competition Committee from 1975 though 1995 (including the last two years in that span as co-chairman along with George Young of the New York Giants), which evaluates and recommends changes in playing rules as well as regulations designed to improve the safety of playing conditions.
Along with his football responsibilities, Shula always has given considerable time and financial and emotional support to many area charities. The Don Shula Foundation, formed primarily to assist breast cancer research, was established as a tribute to his late wife, Dorothy. Shula also has been active in the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, American Red Cross, the United Way, and Catholic Charities.
A member of the Class of 1951 at John Carroll, Shula helps fund a $1 million chair in the University’s Department of Philosophy. John Carroll University showed its appreciation for Shula’s support of the school by naming its athletic complex the Don Shula Sports Center on May 17, 1994. Shula has also received honorary doctorate degrees from John Carroll, St. Thomas University, the University of Miami, and Florida Atlantic University. Additionally, Shula’s support of countless charitable and community efforts have led to the naming of the Don Shula Scholarship at St. Thomas University, The Shula Family Life Fitness Center at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and the Don & Mary Anne Shula Building at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Miami Beach.
Due to his success on the football field and his longtime civic and charitable service, Shula has received countless prestigious awards recognizing his contributions, including the 1993 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award, the 1994 Horatio Alger Award, the Bert Bell Award, the Lombardi Award, and the Pete Rozelle Award. Shula also co-authored Everyone’s A Coach with Ken Blanchard in 1995, a highly acclaimed book that outlines the application of their managerial philosophies for business and personal success. Shula personifies those business principles himself, serving as an equity partner in two highly successful enterprises, Don Shula's Hotel & Golf Club and Don Shula’s Steak Houses, LP.
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