The legendary Miami Dolphins coach, and winningest coach in NFL history, died Monday
Don Shula’s legacy extends far beyond South Florida. He is the winningest coach in NFL history and coached the only undefeated team in NFL history: the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
So plenty of tributes from around the league, and country, poured in Monday when Shula, holder of 347 victories, died age 90.
Everyone from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick to Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue extended their condolences.
>>PHOTOS: Look at Don Shula over the years
The president of Miami’s NBA team, Pat Riley of the Heat, even released a statement.
“There was no better man or coach in the history of the profession than Coach Don Shula,” Riley said. “He was tough, courageous and an authentic leader with great integrity in his pursuit of perfection, which he achieved. I followed his coaching philosophies with great eagerness since moving to Miami and my respect for him helped mold me not only as a coach, but also as a man.
“My heart and prayers go out to his wife, Mary Anne, and his entire family at this time. May God bless you as you continue to spread your light while teaching in your new locker room. Rest In Peace Coach.”
>>Legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula dead at age 90
With a record six Super Bowl rings, Bill Belichick is up there with Shula as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. The connection goes deeper than that. The two actually knew each other long before Belichick’s coaching career. His father, Steven, grew up in northeast Ohio just like Shula and the two developed a friendship, according to Bill.
Statement from #Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick on the passing of Don Shula: https://t.co/Qx6SzsGbsw pic.twitter.com/KSARlkda4Y— New England Patriots (@Patriots) May 4, 2020
“Don Shula is one of the all-time great coaching figures and the standard for consistency and leadership in the NFL,” Belichick said. “I was fortunate to grow up in Maryland as a fan of the Baltimore Colts who, under Coach Shula, were one of the outstanding teams of that era.
“My first connection to Coach Shula as through my father whose friendship with Coach Shula went back to their days in northeast Ohio.”
>>Habib: When it comes to legacy, integrity, New England’s Bill Belichick will never be in same class as Miami Dolphins’ Don Shula
Jones, who bought the Cowboys in 1989 when Shula was still coaching the Dolphins, said in a statement Shula, “was not just an iconic figure in the history of our game, he was an American institution who always represented the highest levels of character, leadership and integrity.”
Jones went on to say: “Being in his presence was always a special opportunity to rub shoulders with true greatness. His name and his legacy will serve to inspire all of the very best virtues of sportsmanship, competition, and achievement in coaches for generations to come. There will never be another like him.”
Jones also mentioned how grateful he was for the relationship he had with Shula and his wife Mary Anne.
Statement from Jerry Jones on the passing of Don Shula.
Shula coached the Dolphins from 1970 to 1995. During that time, Tagliabue rose to NFL commissioner, taking over in 1989.
“Don Shula represented the highest standards of excellence by virtually any measure,” Tagilabue said in a statement. “His contributions to the NFL and the game of football extended far beyond his all-time record victory total. Don also was an all-time winner when it came to integrity, honesty and class. The NFL owes him a great deal for his tremendous loyalty and work on behalf of the league and football fans across America.”
>>READ MORE: In one of Don Shula’s last interviews, he talked favorite career moment, future of the team
From 2013 -- President @BarackObama on Don Shula: "Coach Shula retired with more wins than any coach in NFL history. Each and every time that perfect record has been challenged, team after team has fallen short." RIP. pic.twitter.com/kFTWh8PyPw— CSPAN (@cspan) May 4, 2020
The Kansas City Chiefs are defending Super Bowl champions, and their chairman and CEO is Clark Hunt, the son of franchise founder Lamar Hunt. The AFC Championship trophy is named in Lamar’s honor, so the name Hunt carries a lot of weight in NFL circles.
So too does the name Shula.
"Without a doubt, Don Shula was one of the greatest coaches in the history of any sport,“Clark Hunt said in a statement. ”Over the course of his remarkable 33 seasons as a head coach, Coach Shula had a profound impact on the game he loved, paving the way for the exciting brand of offensive football that has become a mainstay in the modern NFL.
“No one coached more games or won more games than Coach Shula, and his 1972 Dolphins set a standard for perfection that has never been duplicated.”