JUPITER (CBSMiami) – From his home in Jupiter, Dave Shula can now slowly exhale after going through an emotional whirlwind.
His famous dad, Don Shula, born during the Great depression, died during a pandemic and was buried after a private service last Friday.
“The fact that it was just family, in the church, four generations of Shulas, made it very special,” he said.
Dave, the older of the two Shula sons, grew from being the sandy-haired kid at his dad’s side to his apprentice and then adversary.
As head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Dave lost to his dad twice. but after their first meeting, he gained a lasting memory.
“He put his arm around me, because he knew how much it meant… how special that historic moment was. It was special,” Dave recalls as he fights back a few tears.
WATCH: Dave Shula’s Full Interview
Don Shula was known as a stickler for detail. And not just on the field, but even doling out chores at home. Once, Dave recalls his dad ordering him to clean out the garage.
“About half an hour into it, he comes out and proceeds to give me a clinic on the proper brush strokes to get up as much dust at one time,” Dave laughs.
Don Shula wanted things done right, but Dave believes his greatest legacy was treating people fairly.
Dave recalls Miami being a different place when his dad arrived to coach the Dolphins in 1970.
Miami was outgrowing a legacy of segregation when Dave recalls his dad rooming black and white players together during training camp. It was a move not lost on future Hall of Famer Larry Little.
“That was a very monumental move, but he would never talk about it. He just thought that’s how it should be, and there really should be no other way to do it,” Little said.
In 26 years of coaching the Dolphins, Don Shula left a stamp on the franchise and an imprint on his players’ lives.
Dave has heard from many of them over the past week, including former star Mark Duper. He told Dave how much he appreciated his dad taking a chance on him, and how he helped turn a track star into an All-Pro football player.
Dave Shula said he has gotten a thousand messages of condolence since his father died, from the sports world and beyond.
He said that validated what he already knew.
“He was our dad, but we always knew he was part of a much bigger family than ours.”