Don Shula wins an interesting victory

Don Shula wins an interesting victory
Don Shula wins an interesting victory

Don Shula named N.F.L. Story: Most wins for a coach, coached in most games, the only perfect season in the league.

Despite all the wins and accolades (Shula was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1997), he was striving for how his team would win. He was consistently among the least punished in the league, which he considered a sign of discipline and readiness of his players.

"I always said there was no small mistake or negligible mistake," Shula told the New York Times in 2016. "If it happened in an important part of the game, it could be part of the game's outcome." "

His approach worked, clearly in two Super Bowl titles and all of those wins. For decades.

Shula, who died on Monday at the age of 90, when John F. Kennedy was president during the Bill Clinton administration and retired from the Miami Dolphins. He was the same ruthless taskmaster in his 33 seasons as head coach, an innovator who found ways to win with unrecognized stars and stalwarts, such as the so-called defense of the 1970s. The players were strong in practice and demanded that they prepare so well that they could adapt to any situation during the game.

Then there were workouts in the sun and humidity of South Florida that every Shula-trained dolphin can remember. Among his many ways of inflicting pain on a generation of dolphins, Shula gave players 12 minutes of practice around two football fields on the team's training ground at St. Thomas University. They passed trainers and scouts wearing timers, shouting divisions. The wide receivers and defensive backs had one goal, linebackers and another runner. For the lineman, the group's largest, practice was pure suffering.

"It was an annual ritual and if you didn't hit the target time, it would summon your time in front of all of your teammates," said Richmond Webb, an aggressive tackler who attacked the Shula dolphin in 1990. "He was tough, but you see Kamadari. He was the same man, apparently, with the boys playing in the 70s and 80s."

Shula recorded a record 347 wins as an NFL. Coached and led the 1972 Dolphins to the only true season in the league. The team that this year, NFL History, he led the league on both offense and defense.

Shula's teams remained competitive for decades; In his 33 years as head coach, he had only two losing seasons, a dozen years apart. His teams made the playoffs 19 times, with six Super Bowl appearances.

Some of his records may be broken: The New England Patriots' Bill Bellich is the closest active coach in the win, trailing Shula's total of 43. But Shula's openness to change, his ability to rely on talented assistant coaches, no matter his age, and his imprint on modern game rules can be as important as his stats.

Shula won a variety of quarterbacks. In Baltimore, he trained the great Johnny Unitas and the constant but very dynamic Earl Moral. In Miami, his Super Bowl teams were led by two other Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Bob Grays and Dan Merino, but also by undeclared David Woodley and during that magical 1972 season, Moral again.

In an era when teams rode a primary aisle, Shula leaned on one of the three, Larry Konska, Mercury Morris and Jim Killick, who joined the game based on this situation. To confuse the offenses, Shula's defensive lineman would appear as linebackers, and linebackers as lineman.

"He won with the running game, he won with the passing game," said Upton Bell, who was director of player personnel with the Colts during Shula's tenure in Baltimore. If you put the record aside, it will go against the grain. I was ready for a change because I could see the impact in the game. "

The best example came in the 1970s, when Shula's teams were built around a formidable offensive line and an exhausting running game. As a member of the league's competition committee, Shula saw that defenders could receive passes throughout the field, dodging the passing game. While it was not in his best interests for the Dolphins at the time, Shula pushed for a five-yard penalty to defenders who hit receivers more than five yards from the line of scrams.

In a few years, the league was dominated by first-pass offenses that have been models since. And one of the most famous passing offenses first appeared in Miami, where Dan Marino became the first quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards in a season. When he retired in 1999, Marino had dozens of approval records, most of which have been overshadowed.

Years later, at her home near Miami Beach, Shula talked about the rules she helped introduce during her 26 years on the competition committee. He and Tex Scrum, Dallas Cowboys executive who chaired the committee, knew that the stars made the game popular, especially quarterbacks. To preserve those stars, he added a penalty against defenders, who hit the quarterback from behind with his head.

"We wanted to make sure that we keep the enthusiasm in the game and the great players," Shula said.

He managed to do both. For decades.

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