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Donald Francis Shula Edit Profile

coach , football player

Donald Francis Shula is a former professional American football coach and player best known as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, the team he led to two Super Bowl victories, and to the only perfect season in the history of the National Football League (NFL).


Shula was born on January 4, 1930 in Grand River, Ohio, a small town along the Lake Erie shore in the northeastern part of the state, the son of Dan and Mary (Miller) Shula, both of Hungarian origin, having immigrated when they were children. Shula's father Dan worked for $9 a week at a rose nursery and saved up to buy the small house where Shula spent his early childhood. The house was next door to a grocery store in Grand River owned by Mary's parents. Shula began playing football while still quite young and at the tender age of eleven was forbidden by his parents to play the game anymore after sustaining a bad facial cut during a neighborhood scrimmage. As Shula's family expanded - he had six siblings, including a set of triplets born in 1936 - his father got a job in the local fishing industry for $15 a week, and later worked at a rayon plant in nearby Painesville, Ohio. His mother was a devout Catholic, and his father converted to the religion when they married.


Shula attended elementary school at St. Mary's, a private Catholic school in Painesville. He later attended Thomas W. Harvey in Painesville and played on its football team starting in 1945. As Shula prepared to graduate from high school in 1947, many men whose football careers were delayed by service in World War II were returning and competing for athletic scholarships. As a result, Shula was unable to get a scholarship and contemplated working for a year before going to college. That summer, however, he had a chance meeting at a gas station with former Painesville football coach Howard Bauchman, who suggested he ask about a scholarship at John Carroll University. Shula got a one-year scholarship at the private Jesuit school in University Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. It was extended to a full scholarship after Shula performed well in his freshman year, including in a win over Youngstown State in October 1948.


The winningest coach in professional football, Don Shula compiled an unparalleled record of 347-173-6 over thirty-three seasons coaching in the National Football League (NFL).

Throughout his career, Shula led six teams to the Super Bowl, winning twice.

In what was the high point of his coaching career, Shula in 1972 coached the Dolphins to a perfect record of 17-0, the only NFL team to go undefeated for an entire season.

In 1963 Shula became coach of Baltimore Colts. In his second season at the helm of the Colts, he led the team to a 12-2 record and earned for himself the first of six Coach of the Year awards.

In their third and fourth seasons under Shula's direction, the Colts compiled still-impressive records of 10-3-1 and 9-5, respectively.

In 1967 the Colts barreled back with a record of 11-1-2 but again failed to make it to the Super Bowl.

Shula's dream of coaching a team into the Super Bowl came true in 1968. On the strength of an extraordinary 13-1 record in the regular season, the Colts faced off against the New York Jets in Super Bowl III but were handed an upset by the New Yorkers.

In his final season with the Colts, Shula coached the Baltimore team to a winning -

but disappointing - record of 8-5-1 in 1969.

Looking for a new challenge, Shula turned his attention southward. In 1970 he signed on as new head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Shula quickly turned things around in Miami, coaching the Dolphins to winning records of 10-4 and 10-3-1 his first two seasons with the team. The Dolphins capped off their 1971 season with a visit to the Super Bowl, where they lost, 24-3, to the Dallas Cowboys.

Miami then went on to win its first Super Bowl, defeating the Redskins, 14-7. After compiling a record of 12-2 in the regular 1973 season, the Dolphins powered their way back to the Super Bowl where they crushed the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7. Shula's greatest glory as a coach came during the early 1970s as he coached the Dolphins through sixty-two consecutive games without a single back-to-back loss, earning a record of 53-9 for the period. The Dolphins enjoyed another winning season in 1974, winning the American Football Conference's (AFC) Eastern Division title with a record of 11-3. However, the Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs after being narrowly defeated, 28-26, by the Oakland Raiders. Miami ended 1975 with a 10-4 record in the regular season but were edged out of the AFC Eastern title by the Baltimore Colts.

The following year was not a good one for Shula and the Dolphins, which suffered their first losing season (6-8) since Shula's arrival. Miami bounced back in 1977 to finish the regular season with a record of 10-4, finishing second in the AFC Eastern Division. In 1978 Shula coached the Dolphins to a winning record of 11-5. The Dolphins' 10-6 record in 1979 won the AFC Eastern Division title, but Miami fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-14, in the divisional playoffs.

The following year the Dolphins broke even with a record of 8-8, placing third in the AFC Eastern Division.

Things looked up in 1981 when the Dolphins again took the AFC Eastern title with a record of 11-4-1. In the divisional playoffs, Miami was narrowly defeated, 41-38, by the San Diego Chargers in overtime.

In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Dolphins captured the AFC Eastern title with a record of 7-2. Miami went on to win the AFC championship with a 14-0 defeat of the New York Jets. In the Super Bowl, the Dolphins were over-powered, 27-17, by the Redskins.

Shula's Dolphins capped off the 1984 season with a return visit to the Super Bowl, where they lost, 38-16, to the San Francisco 49ers.

For the next eleven seasons, under Shula's direction, the Dolphins enjoyed breakeven or winning seasons every year except 1988 when they finished with a record of 6-10. Finally in 1996, Shula at the age of sixty-six retired from professional football, leaving behind the winningest record in NFL coaching history.

Only two years later, in his first year of eligibility, Shula was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Looking back on his pro coaching career, Shula told the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies: "It's a wonderful tribute to be here, and I'm very proud of it. There have been so many memories, so many wonderful people I've been privileged to work with. "


Shula has been deeply religious throughout his life. He said in 1974, at the peak of his coaching career, that he attended mass every morning. Shula once considered becoming a Catholic priest, but decided he could not commit to being both priest and coach.


Shula married Painesville native Dorothy Bartish on July 19, 1958. They had five children: Dave Shula (b. May 28, 1959), Donna (b. April 28, 1961), Sharon (b. June 30, 1962), Anne (b. May 7, 1964), and Mike Shula (b. June 3, 1965). Dorothy died of breast cancer on February 25, 1991.

He married Mary Anne Stephens on October 16, 1993. They reside in the Indian Creek, Florida, home Mary Anne received in her divorce settlement from her third husband, investment banker Jackson Stephens.

Dan Shula

Mary Miller

Dorothy Bartish

Mary Anne Stephens

Sharon Shula

Anne Shula

Donna Shula

David Donald Shula

He is an American former professional football player and coach.

Mike Shula

He is an American football coach who is the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL).