An iconic coach who set the standard - NFL world pays tribute to Don Shula

Omnisport

The NFL world offered tributes to Don Shula, holder of the record for most wins by a head coach in league history, following his death at the age of 90.

Shula's passing was announced by the Miami Dolphins on Monday.

He led the Dolphins to a perfect season in 1972 as they went undefeated through the regular season and playoffs, a feat that has never been matched.

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Shula, who also won an NFL title with the Baltimore Colts in 1968, led the Dolphins to a second Super Bowl crown the following season.

A further two Super Bowl appearances came in the 1980s for the Dolphins and Shula, who retired after the 1995 season having amassed 347 wins.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997, and his influence on the sport has been widely celebrated.

Dolphins vice-chairman, president and CEO Tom Garfinkel wrote on Twitter: "Today is a sad day. Coach Shula was the rare man who exemplified true greatness in every aspect of his life. He will be so missed by so many but his legacy of character and excellence will endure. All my best to Mary Anne and the Shula family."

Fellow Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson said that Shula "set the standard", while Bill Cowher - also recently inducted into Canton - wrote: "We lost one of the most iconic men in the history of NFL coaching in Don Shula. His leadership and wisdom helped to guide me and many others who have made a life in coaching football. Thank you Coach Shula. May your spirit and legacy live on forever."

Former Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake referenced a famous Shula quote: "One thing I never want to be accused of is not working." Current Dolphins DeVante Parker and Davon Godchaux also paid tribute.

Legendary Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann was drafted by the Dolphins in 1971 but never played for them as contract talks broke down. He played in Canada until 1973 before joining Washington and defeating Shula and the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.

He wrote on Twitter: "We lost a true coaching legend today with the passing of Coach Shula. He drafted me and even though I never played for him I always had the greatest respect for him and his teams. My prayers go out to his family."

Joe Namath and the New York Jets stunningly overcame Shula's Colts in the third AFL-NFL Championship game, later known as Super Bowl III. Namath told the Los Angeles Times: "Coach Shula had dedication, determination, passion to do things the proper way."

Former All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis praised Shula, not only for his coaching achievements but also for the success he had as a restaurant owner after his retirement with a chain of steakhouses. NBA legend Magic Johnson was among those from outside the NFL world to offer his condolences, too.

The Hall of Fame flag at the museum's campus in Ohio will be flown at half-mast in Shula's memory.

Hall of Fame president David Baker said in a statement: "The game has lost one of the greats today, but we have all lost a truly incredible man. Hall of Fame coach Don Shula served as an ambassador for this great game for more than half a century.

"His legendary feats on the gridiron led him to a record 347 wins to become the winningest coach in NFL history and allowed him to lead the 1972 Dolphins to the only perfect season in NFL history.

"Coach Shula was a man who truly loved the game and I have often been moved by the deep respect and affection he was always afforded by the men who played for him. 

"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of coach Shula. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Mary Anne and their entire family. The Hall of Fame flag will fly at half-staff and we will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations."

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