Donald Francis Shula was an American professional football coach and player. Don Shula is best known for his winning streaks in the National Football League history, Shula is also known for his longtime stint as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. The former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula died Monday, May 4, at the age of 90, per the Miami Heralds Barry Jackson.
Don Shula Biography
Shula was born in Grand River, Ohio, a small town along the Lake Erie shore in the northeastern part of the state. His parents, Dan and Mary were of Hungarian origin, having migrated when they were children. Shula’s father Dan worked for $9 a week at a rose nursery and saved up to buy the small house where Shula spent his early childhood. Don Shula had six siblings including a set of triplets born in 1936.
Don Shula Age
Donald Shula was January 4, 1930. At the time of his death, he was 90 years old.
Don Shula Education
Don Shula attended a private Catholic School in Painesville called St.Mary’s for his elementary school. He later joined Harvey High School in Painesville and played on its football team in 1945. He later got a one-year scholarship at the private Jesuit school in University Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. His scholarship was extended to a full scholarship after he performed well in his freshman year, he won over Youngstown State in October 1948. The same year, he considered joining the Catholic priesthood after a three-day retreat at John Carroll but changed his mind because of his commitment to football. During his senior year in 1950, he rushed for 125 yards in a win over a heavily favored Syracuse team. Don Shula graduated in 1951 as a sociology major with a minor in mathematics.
Don Shula Career
Don Shula began his career when he was offered a job teaching and coaching at Canton Lincoln High School in Canton, Ohio. Shula was then offered an assistant coach career with the Detroit Lions in 1960, and he was head coach of the Baltimore Colts from 1963-1969. Shula was 98-71 in his time with the Colts, and he managed to lead dominant teams in both the 1970s and 1980s later with the Dolphins.
Miami won two Super Bowls in the 70s, and while the Dolphins didn’t win the big game under Shula in the 80s, or again at all after he retired, he and quarterback Dan Marino were a formidable duo. Together, they kept beyond-dominant 1985 Chicago Bears from becoming the second undefeated team in NFL history, as they were the only team to beat that famed ’85 Bears squad. Until Bill Belichick and Tom Brady took the NFL by storm, Shula and Marino were the winningest quarterback-coach duo in NFL history.
Don Shula Family
Shula married Painesville native Dorothy Bartish on July 19, 1958. The couple had five children, Dave Shula born May 28, 1959, Donna born April 28, 1961, Sharon born June 30, 1962, Anne born May 7, 1964, and Mike Shula born June 3, 1965. His wife Dorothy died of breast cancer on February 25, 1991, and on the same year, the Don Shula Foundation for Breast Cancer was founded. Shula later married Mary Anne Stephens a divorcee from her third husband, investment banker Jackson Stephens on October 16, 1993. On November 25, 1996, he was inducted to the Miami Dolphin Honor Roll.
Don Shula Death
Very sad news: Dolphins Hall of Fame coach Don Shula passed away this morning at age 90, one of his children confirmed.
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) May 4, 2020
While the cause of death was not immediately known, a source confirmed it is not related to the coronavirus pandemic. The Dolphins addressed Shula’s death on Twitter shortly after the news broke. “The Miami Dolphins are saddened to announce that Head Coach Don Shula passed away peacefully at his home this morning,” the team’s Twitter post said. It included an official statement that read in part: “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.”
The Miami Dolphins are saddened to announce that Head Coach Don Shula passed away peacefully at his home this morning. pic.twitter.com/MKAtXFA4zd
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 4, 2020
The Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and head coach Brian Flores also released statements on the death of Don Shula.
Statements from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and head coach Brian Flores on the death of Don Shula. pic.twitter.com/vCPCvnm3Wk
— Will Manso (@WillManso) May 4, 2020
When he retired from the NFL in 2000, Marino gave Shula a special tribute, “I am honored that Coach Shula is here today. Coach, not only have you been a tremendous impact on my career, but you have taught me how to be a true professional. And I’m very proud of the fact that we were able to win more games than any other coach/quarterback combination in the history of football.”
Shula leaves a legacy as having the most regular season and total wins in league history, carrying a lifetime record of 347-173-6 translating to a .665 winning percentage.
In 1993 Paul Zimmerman a 1993 Sports Illustrated article in which Shula was named sportsman of the year. Many media personalities, coaches, players, and fans across the globe paid their tribute on social media with Dan Marino tweeting:
— Dan Marino (@DanMarino) May 4, 2020
Thank you for always believing in me. You made me a better player and person. My thoughts & prayers are with the entire Shula family. Love you Coach! #RIP (Part 2 of 2)
Shula is survived by his wife, Mary Anne, and his children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne, and Mike.