MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula passed away Monday morning at the age of 90. The local legend and pillar of the community will be missed. But his mark on the game will live indefinitely. His 1972 Dolphins remain the only team in NFL history to go unbeaten in the regular season and win the Super Bowl.
Shula played 73 games over seven seasons (1951-1957) in the NFL as a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins. He finished his playing career with 21 interceptions.
Shula quickly transitioned into coaching, first as an assistant at the college level and then as a defensive backs coach in the pros. He was hired by the Colts, his former team, for his first head-coaching position in 1963. At 33 years old, he was the youngest head coach in the league to date.
Shula’s Colts won 73 games over the next seven seasons, posting seven consecutive winning seasons, but losing his one Super Bowl appearance. In 1970, he took over head-coaching duties for the young Miami Dolphins, where he would spend the remainder of his coaching career. The team’s fortunes turned around almost immediately, with the Dolphins winning 10 games in his first season. In his second season, they won 10 games again, en route to Super Bowl VI, where they fell to the Dallas Cowboys.
The 1972 season would secure his place in the record books for decades to come. Behind a strong running game and a solid but overlooked defense (dubbed the ‘No-Name Defense’), Shula’s Dolphins completed the 14-game regular season undefeated. They would go on to beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII to remain unbeaten.
That regular season record stood until 2007, when the New England Patriots won all 16 of their regular-season games. The Patriots, however, lost Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants.
Shula piled up 347 wins in his 33 years as head coach, becoming one of only two coaches to surpass 300 wins. That total includes the Super VIII title, his only other Super Bowl win in his five appearances with the Dolphins. Shula’s teams won their division 16 times and made the playoffs 19 times, the latter of which also remains unsurpassed. His 328-156-6 regular season record with the Colts and Dolphins gives him a.677 win percentage, which is the seventh-best in NFL history among coaches with at least 10 seasons.