By Peter Gleason
Don Shula, who when he was hired by the Baltimore Colts was the youngest coach in NFL history and who became the league’s winningest coach, died today at 90.
“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” the Dolphins statement said. “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.”
Shula won an NFL-record 347 games, including including playoff games. He coached the Dolphins (17-0) to the league’s only undefeated season in 1972, culminating in a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
The Dolphins repeated as champions the next season, beating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII, the third straight title game Miami had played in; the Dolphins lost 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.
Shula guided the Dolphins to five Super Bowls, including losses to the Redskins (27-17 in Super Bowl XVII) and San Francisco 49ers (38-16 in Super Bowl XIX).
Before coming to Miami, Shula coached the Baltimore Colts, who made him the then-youngest NFL coach when they hired him at age 33. He led the Colts to Super Bowl III, the first title game to officially have “Super Bowl” in its name. Baltimore lost 16-7 to quarterback Joe Namath and the New York Jets, who became the first AFL team to win a Super Bowl.