Legendary NFL coach Don Shula dies at 90

Don Shula. (REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)

By Joe Pantorno

The NFL’s all-time winningest head coach and Miami Dolphins legend, Don Shula, died on Monday at the age of 90.

The Dolphins issued a statement confirming the news, adding that Shula “died peacefully at his home.”

“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” it read. “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.”

Including postseason play, Shula won 347 games as an NFL head coach with the Baltimore Colts from 1963-1969 and Miami Dolphins from 1970-1995. During his 33 years on the sidelines, he set a league record by coaching in 509 games (490 regular season, 19 postseason).

In Baltimore, he led the Colts to a 13-1 regular season in 1968 that ended with an NFL championship, but they fell to the New York Jets in the famed Super Bowl III upset.

He rose to fame as an elite NFL coach with the Dolphins, though, dominating the early portions of the 1970s with three AFC Championships and two Super Bowl titles (1972-73).

The 1972 teams is an immortal side in football lore, pulling off the only undefeated season in NFL history with a 14-0 regular-season record that led to a Super Bowl VII triumph over the Washington Redskins.

They repeated as Super Bowl champions the next year with a 24-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings to cap off a 12-2 campaign.

Shula led the Dolphins to the Super Bowl five times during his tenure in Miami, losing the 1971 title game to the Dallas Cowboys before dropping another two in 1982 and 1984 to the Redskins and San Francisco 49ers.

In his 33 seasons as a head coach, Shula’s teams had losing records just twice, securing 10 or more regular-season wins 20 times.

Two years after resigning from the Dolphins in 1995, Shula was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH where he still holds the honor of being one of two NFL head coaches with at least 300 career victories. The other was legendary Chicago Bears founder, George Halas.

Prior to his coaching career, Shula played seven seasons (1951-57) in the NFL as a defensive back with the Cleveland Browns, Colts, and Redskins where he recorded 21 interceptions.

This story first appeared on amNY.com

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