MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell based on a stage and invested a few minutes running down a partial checklist of Don Shula’s accomplishments: two Super Bowl wins, even more victories than any coach in NFL background and the only ideal season the league has ever seen.
And after that Goodell, in one sentence, summarized Shula’s football life.
“He changed the game, and made it much better in every way,” Goodell said.
Almost a year and a half after Shula passed away, the Dolphins finally held a public celebration of his life on Saturday, an event that couldn’t be held last year because of the pandemic. It was suitable that Miami selected this weekend break for its Shula celebration and alumni get-together: The Dolphins on Sunday play host to the Indianapolis Colts, the various other NFL team that Shula coached in his Hall of Fame career.
His 347 victories, including playoffs, is still unmatched for any coach in the league’s background; George Halas had 324 and New England coach Bill Belichick enters this weekend break with 312.
“The league really didn’t locate success until the mid-’60s, around the time that Don Shula – simply a few years after being named the youngest head coach in NFL background – started his streak of seven straight gaining seasons with the Baltimore Colts,” Goodell said. “During his 26 years here in Miami, he placed Miami and in large part the NFL on the sporting activities map by establishing among the great franchises.”
And to assume much of Shula’s run with Miami almost never happened.
Rev. Thomas Wenski, the Archbishop of Miami and close pal of Shula, told a story about exactly how the coach as soon as had a falling out with then-Dolphins owner Joe Robbie early in his Miami period and was preparing to leave.
“It happened at some point before the ideal season,” Wenski said. “He and Joe Robbie had a fight. Now, they were both headstrong and they were so mad at each various other they stopped speaking to each various other, and that’s why the reports were flying that Shula was going to pack up and leave Miami.”
Shula, a devout Catholic, mosted likely to daily Mass, Wenski said. Robbie also was a practicing Catholic, and the Archbishop of Miami at the time – Rev. Coleman Carroll – called each of them individually and asked for a meeting. Shula arrived, Robbie arrived, both were given separate spaces and neither recognized that Carroll had arranged for a news seminar.
Carroll purchased them to shake hands. They did. The battle finished.
“And eventually, Miami took place to the ideal season,” Wenski said.
Shula coached the Dolphins up until 1995, though remained a larger-than-life number around the franchise up until his passing. His statue at the stadium is a weekly gathering place for Dolphins fans to pay homage, his name adorns the award the NFL breaks down annually to the national secondary school coach of the year, and the Shula brand adorns a restaurant and a golf program in Miami Lakes, Florida– the town where he as soon as lived.
“He’s a great coach,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “It was an honor and advantage for me to obtain to speak to him and obtain some understanding from him about coaching and about assisting individuals come to be the ideal variation of themselves from a preparation standpoint, and after that take the important things that they learned from football on the area and utilize it beyond football when they’re done to assist them attain success in various other areas.”
However it was the on-field success – and that 17-0 season in 1972 – that still establishes Shula apart from all others.
“When he came to us, we were the base of the league,” Dolphins tale Larry Csonka said. “He came into the conference space and started talking in a language we barely can understand. We were the most awful team in the league.