The NFL on Monday lost a coaching icon. Don Shula, the Hall of Fame coach of the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins, died at the age of 90, the team confirmed.
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 33-year NFL coach, who retired in 1995 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame two years later, leaves behind one of the greatest legacies in NFL history. He not only owns the league's all-time win record, but was also a multiple NFL Coach of the Year selection — and the only one to lead an undefeated team in league history.
Shula's death is one that will reverberate throughout the sports world — not just in football. Looking at his career achievements, it's easy to see why:
33 years coached
Shula, who coached 33 years — seven for the Colts, 26 for the Dolphins — is tied with Curly Lambeau for the second-longest coaching tenure in league history. They trail only George Halas, who coached 40 seasons across five decades for the Bears.
Because of the eras in which he coached, Shula also owns the record for most games coached: 526 (490 in the regular season and 36 in the postseason).
347 career victories
Shula owns the NFL record for most overall wins (347) and most regular-season wins (328). The next-closest mark is Halas' 318 and 324 marks, respectively.
It's also worth noting that Shula's 19 career playoff victories rank third-most in NFL history. Only Bill Belichick (31) and Tom Landry (20) have more.
Four-time NFL Coach of the Year
Another stat that stands out in Shula's storied career: He is the only four-time NFL Coach of the Year selection in league history. He was awarded that honor in 1964, '67, '68 and '72. (He is also the only four-time recipient of the Sporting News Coach of the Year, awarded in 1964, '68, '70 and '72).
For context, Belichick, a six-time Super Bowl champion, has only been named NFL Coach of the Years three times. Chuck Knox is the only other three-time winner.
Two-time Super Bowl champion
Shula's first foray into the Super Bowl produced less-than-ideal results — his team famously lost to Joe Namath and the AFL's New York Jets in Super Bowl 3, 16-7 — but he made up for it later with the Dolphins in the early '70s. Four seasons after losing his first Super Bowl, Shula — then with the Dolphins — led Miami to consecutive Super Bowl titles in 1972-73.
He lost his next two Super Bowl appearances in the strike-shortened 1982 season and again in 1984.
NFL's only undefeated team: 17-0
Shula was 2-3 in Super Bowl appearances, but he at least owns the only undefeated season in the NFL's Super Bowl era. His 1972 Miami team ran the table, leading the league in both scoring offense and defense (27.5 and 12.2 points per game, respectively).
Perhaps the most impressive stat from this perfect season was just how many close calls Miami overcame: They won six games by a single possession, including every single playoff game.
Averaged 10 wins per season
As many modern NFL coaches can tell you, it can be difficult to reach the double-digit win mark in a given season. Shula not only did that 20 times in 33 seasons, but also averaged 10 wins a season for his career (helped by the fact his teams won at least 10 games in 15 of 18 seasons from 1967-85.)
That stat is made even more impressive considering the league only played 14-game seasons for the first 15 seasons of his coaching tenure.
Only two losing seasons in 33 years
Another testament to Shula's incredible consistency: He only suffered two losing seasons as a coach in his 33-year tenure. The first came in 1976, three years after his second Super Bowl title, and the second came in 1988. Moreover, Shula's teams had only four .500 seasons: In 1980, '86, '89 and '91.