On July 26, 1997, Don Shula capped an illustrious career when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His unanimous election to the Hall was the ultimate honor in a career full of record setting accomplishments.
Don Shula broke into the NFL as the lone rookie on Coach Paul Brown’s defending NFL champion Cleveland Browns in 1951. He was involved in the largest trade in modern NFL history, a 15 player deal with Baltimore in 1953, and he played four seasons with the Colts (1953 56) and one season at Washington (1957) at right cornerback. Don had 21 career interceptions for 247 yards in seven seasons. In college, he was a running back at John Carroll University in Cleveland.
In 1962, after serving as defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions for three years, Don Shula became head coach in Baltimore. In his seven years there, he compiled a record 73 26 4 (.728) and went to the playoffs four times. At age 33, he was the youngest head coach in the history of the NFL. Shula‘s record as head coach of the Dolphins (1970 96) and the Baltimore Colts (1963 69) is unmatched in NFL history. He has appeared in more Super Bowls than any other coach beginning with the Colts in 1968. Along with being one of only two coaches to reach the Super Bowl three straight seasons (1971 73), Don Shula is only 1 of 5 coaches in NFL history to win consecutive Super Bowls (1972 and 1973).
A remarkable 20 times in 33 seasons, Shula‘s teams reached the playoffs. In that span, he suffered only two losing seasons. On November 14, 1993, in Philadelphia, Don Shula won his 325th career game, moving him past the immortal George Halas (324 151 31) and setting an NFL record for most career victories. Starting with the 1996 season, Don served as vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins. He also contributed to the growth of the NFL off the field by serving from 1975 through 1995 on the league’s influential Competition Committee.
In addition to football, Shula has always supported charities. The Don Shula Foundation, formed to assist breast cancer research, was established as a tribute to his late wife, Dorothy. A member of the class of 1951 at John Carroll, Shula helped fund a $1 million charity in the University’s Department of Philosophy. To show their appreciation, the University named their athletic complex The Don Shula Sports Center. Shula was named the 1993 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Additionally, he co-authored Everyone’s A Coach (1995) with Ken Blanchard and is an equity partner in Don Shula‘s Hotel & Golf Club and Don Shula‘s Steak Houses, Inc.