Don Shula, the head coach with the most wins in NFL history, has died at the age of 90.
Shula is most famous for leading the 1972 Miami Dolphins to the only undefeated NFL season in history. The team said in a statement on Monday that Shula had “died peacefully” at home.
“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years,” the Dolphins’ statement read. “He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami in the national sports scene. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Anne along with his children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike.”
Shula started his career as a head coach at the Baltimore Colts before taking over at the Dolphins in 1970. He would remain as head coach in Miami until 1995, winning two Super Bowls. His 347 wins as a head coach is an NFL record.
Shula recorded only two losing seasons during his 33 seasons as a head coach and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. Shula remained in Florida after his retirement and such was his popularity that Miami named a highway, the Don Shula Expressway, after him.
“What was my legacy?” Shula said in an interview with the New York Times after his retirement. “You’ve got to look at the numbers. That’s pretty important. I coached 33 years, won the most games and then the perfect season. When you do something that no other team has done, something that every year we get resurrected, probably to the point where people are saying ‘They’re talking about the Dolphins again?’”
Shula also played in the NFL as a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns, Colts and Washington.
Bill Cowher, who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to victory at Super Bowl XL in 2006, said Shula had been an inspiring figure. “We lost one of the most iconic men in the history of NFL coaching in Don Shula,” wrote Cowher on Twitter. “His leadership and wisdom helped to guide me and many others who have made a life in coaching football.”
He is survived by his five children and second wife, Mary Anne. His first wife, Dorothy, died of breast cancer in 1991 and Shula became active in cancer charities after her death. His two sons, Dave and Mike, also became coaches in the NFL.