The NFL lost one of its most highly-regarded members of the game Monday morning as Don Shula, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, died at the age of 90 years old.
Shula's football career is most well-known for his time as the Miami Dolphins' head coach, where he won two Super Bowls, finished with the most wins ever as a head coach (347), coached the NFL's only unbeaten championship team and was a four-time AP Coach of the Year. He coached the Dolphins from 1970-1995.
While a legend for his career in Miami, Shula's head coaching career began in Baltimore. He coached the Colts from 1963-1969 and was a player for the team from 1953-1956.
Shula was a defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions for three seasons before he was tabbed to replace Weeb Ewbank, whom he played for in the 1950s. While under Shula's leadership, the Colts won the 1968 NFL Championship, but lost the next week to the Joe Namath's New York Jets in Super Bowl III.
His career in Baltimore was highlighted by the fact that he coached seven Colts who ended up enshrined in Canton with Shula: wide receiver Raymond Berry, linebacker Ted Hendricks, tight end John Mackey, defensive end Gino Marchetti, offensive lineman Jim Parker, and most famously, quarterback Johnny Unitas.
Unitas threw for 3,481 yards, a career high, while under Shula's leadership in 1963. He was also named First-team All-Pro in 1964, 1965 and 1967 with Shula at the helm.
In seven seasons as the Colts coach, Shula compiled a record of 71-23-4, a winning percentage of .755. His teams never placed below second in their division or conference except for one year - Shula's first on the job - in 1963.
Shula's accomplishments weren't solely as a coach, however, as he was a player for the Colts for four seasons. After being traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Colts in 1953, Shula joined the team as a defensive back. He had 14 interceptions in 45 games before he was waived prior to the 1957 season. He ended his playing career with the Redskins in 1957.
Current Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said through a statement with the team that he learned from Shula, who was a mentor while Harbaugh was in Philadelphia.
"Don Shula is a cornerstone of Baltimore's football foundation," Harbaugh said through the Ravens. "He helped grow the love of the game in our area, first as a player for the Colts and then as their successful head coach."
Statement from Coach Harbaugh on the passing of Don Shula: pic.twitter.com/39M1m9E6lS
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 4, 2020
"Coach Shula's team reached heights that few have ever known," Harbaugh continued. "He belongs on the Mount Rushmore of NFL head coaches. We have all learned from the principles he taught and established throughout his legendary career."
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