(CelebrityAccess) — Donald Shula, the storied longtime head coach of the Miami Dolphins, NFL Hall of Famer, and one of the most celebrated figures in NFL history, died on Monday. He was 90.
His passing was announced by the his former team the Miami Dolphins on Monday, stating that Shula “died peacefully at his home.”
“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years. He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami in the national sports scene. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Anne along with his children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike,” the Miami Dolphins statement added.
Shula holds the record for the most games won for a team coach in NFL history at 347, which includes playoff games. Shula presided over the Dolphins’ only perfect season, which saw the team clinch a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII in 1973.
Shula played college football at John Carroll University, a private Jesuit school in University Heights, a suburb of Cleveland from which he graduated with a degree in sociology major with a minor in mathematics, but was drafted into the NFL by the Cleveland Browns in 1951 but took a brief hiatus from football due to his enlistment in the army national guard during the Korean War.
After returning to football, he played in the Browns’ championship game as a starter in 1953, but he was later traded to the Baltimore Colts and finally, the Washing Redskins before he retired from professional play after seven seasons in 1958.
That same year, Shula accepted an assistant coaching position at the University of Virginia and several other schools before he was tapped to be the new head coach for the Baltimore Colts in 1963.
With his hiring, Shula, who was 33, became the youngest head coach in league history at the time. The team, lead by legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas, went on to finish the season with an 8–6 record, followed by 12–2 record the following year with Shula winning Coach of the Year, helping to bolster his early reputation.
Shula signed with the Miami Dolphins in 1970, marking the start of one of the longest tenures for a head coach at one team in NFL history, finally retiring in 1995 after a 25-year run with the organization.
In retirement, Shula stayed active, lending his name to a chain of steakhouses and appearing alongside other Miami Dolphins football greats such as Dan Marino in pitching for the diet company NutriSystem.
Shula was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. and in 1999, Shula was presented with the “Lombardi Award of Excellence” from the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.