90 years old.
“Don Shula has been a patriarch of Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” the team said in a statement. “He brings excellence to our franchise and puts Dolphins and the city of Miami on the national sports scene.”
Calling Shula “one of the greatest coaches and contributors” in the game, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the coach’s legacy would last for generations.
“He made an extraordinarily positive impact on so many lives. The winning coach in NFL history and the only one who led the team to the perfect season, Coach Shula led an unmatched football life,” the commissioner said. “He is an exceptional teacher and mentor who for decades has inspired exemplary excellence and integrity.”
Shula is survived by his wife of more than 26 years, Mary Anne, and children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike. Dave and Mike followed their father as a trainer, even as an assistant to dolphin staff.
Although he spent several seasons in the NFL as a player – for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins – and served as the head coach of the Colts, he is famous for a quarter of a century at the helm of the Dolphins.
During his training in Miami, from 1970 to 1995, he won the Super Bowl in the 1970s.
The first of these, after the 1972 season, set a bar that cannot be reached by other teams. With the 14-7 Dolphins victory over the Redskins in Super Bowl VII, Shula’s men became the first and only unbeaten team in a season.
The dolphins retained their title the following year, defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VIII after completing the regular season 12-2.
Shula trained in six Super Bowls during his career. In addition to his two wins, the Colts lost the Super Bowl III, while the dolphin teams came short in Super Bowls VI, XVII and XIX.
“Being in front of him is always a special opportunity to rub shoulders with true greatness,” said Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys defeating Dolphins in Super Bowl VI (though long before Jones bought a team).
“His name and legacy will inspire all the best sportsmanship, competition and achievements in coaches for generations to come. There will never be anyone like him.”
The legendary captain only counts two seasons lost for years with the dolphins. The team no longer enjoys dominance as it used to, claiming only two winning records in the last 14 seasons.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame installed Shula in 1997. The Hall website features quotes that provide a humanistic view of his work.
“The important thing is not what Don Shula knows or what my assistant coach knows. What’s important is what we can convey to the people responsible. That is what coaching is: the ability to send information,” he once said.
Don Baker, the Hall’s president and CEO, said, “The game has lost one of the best. … Coach Shula is a person who really likes this game, and I am often touched by his deep respect and affection. given by people who play for him. “
Stadiums, highways, children carry a legacy
He played soccer at John Carroll University in the Cleveland suburbs and then played for seven seasons in the NFL before starting his coaching career as a defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions.
Dolphins honor him with a bronze statue outside the Hard Rock Stadium. It features the legendary coach, boxing aloft, being carried off the pitch by Dolphins players Nick Buoniconti and Al Jenkins after Super Bowl VII in Los Angeles. John Carroll Stadium at University Heights, Ohio, and State Road 874 in Miami also bears his name.
Shula has five children with his first wife, Dorothy, who died of breast cancer in 1991 at the age of 57. Shula founded the eponymous foundation for breast cancer research in the same year.
Dave and Mike, the oldest and youngest, became coaches after their rookie season as players in the NFL.
Dave trained wide receivers and quarterbacks for dolphins from 1982 to 1988 before joining the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals staff. He is now a broad receiver trainer for Dartmouth College.
Mike played quarterback for the Alabama college powerhouse, where he returned as head coach in 2003 after serving on the Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff. He is now the Denver Broncos quarterback coach.
In 2015, Don Shula had the honor of watching his youngest son coach as an offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers at Super Bowl 50.
Shula entered the business after retirement, with steak restaurants, hotels and golf clubs among his portfolio.
CNN’s David Close contributed to this report.