Don Shula’s record as head coach of the Baltimore Colts from 1963 to 1969 and the Miami Dolphins from 1970 to 1995 is unmatched in NFL history. In 1995, he concluded his 33rd season as the winningest NFL head coach ever with a career mark of 347-173-6 (.665).
Of all NFL coaches, only Shula and the immortal George Halas attained 300 victories. The Colts under Shula enjoyed seven straight winning seasons and in 26 years at Miami, Shula’s Dolphins experienced only two seasons below .500. Shula’s team reached the playoffs 20 times in 33 years and his teams won at least 10 games 21 times.
Shula holds the NFL record for having coached in six Super Bowls but his teams won only twice. In Super Bowl VII, the 1972 Dolphins completed their historic 17-0-0 campaign – the only perfect season in NFL history – with a 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins. In 1973, Miami defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VIII to culminate a two-season span when the Dolphins won 32 of 34 games.
Shula, who was born January 4, 1930, in Grand River, Ohio, played college football at John Carroll University in Cleveland and then became one of two rookies on Coach Paul Brown’s 1951 Cleveland Browns team. In 1953, Shula moved to the Baltimore Colts as part of an historic 15-player trade. He played cornerback for the Colts for four seasons and for the Washington Redskins in 1957 before turning to coaching as a college assistant.
He returned to pro football in 1960 as the Detroit Lions defensive coordinator. In 1963, Shula was hired as head coach of the Baltimore Colts. At 33, he was the then-youngest head coach in NFL history.
In seven years, he led the Colts to a 73-26-4 record and playoff appearances three years. In 1970, he made a major career move when he took over the Dolphins in only their fifth season. Almost immediately, he turned the Miami team into a perpetual winner.