Don Shula: An NFL great’s career in numbers


Modified 05 May 2020, 00:16 IST

Don Shula - croppedA statue of former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula

Such was Don Shula’s greatness, he still owns multiple NFL records today.

The former Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins head coach, who died aged 90 on Monday, retired in 1996 as a two-time Super Bowl champion, one of those rings delivered by the historic undefeated team of 1972.

Shula’s career was one of sustained success, transcending different teams, quarterbacks and eras.

Here we take a look at the remarkable numbers from his NFL head coaching career.

347 victories – Only three men in NFL history have won over 300 games, Shula, Chicago Bears great George Halas and New England Patriots legend Bill Belichick. Shula, whose final record of 347-173-6 from his 33 years as a head coach, still holds the record for the most wins in NFL history.

67 years – As a player (seven seasons), assistant coach (three), head coach (33) and executive (24) – Shula spent 67 seasons in the NFL. He played for the Cleveland Browns, Colts and Washington Redskins then coached for the Detroit Lions, Colts and Dolphins.

15 Hall of Famers – Shula’s bust in Canton is surrounded by some familiar ones. Fifteen of the players he coached – including legendary quarterbacks Johnny Unitas and Dan Marino – are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, seven were former Colts, eight former Dolphins.

20 playoff appearances – In his 33-year career, Shula’s teams went to the postseason 20 times. He made the playoffs in each of his first five years with Miami.


17-0 – In 1972, Shula’s Miami Dolphins completed the only undefeated season in NFL history, going 14-0 in the regular season before winning all three of their playoff games, including Super Bowl VII.

31 seasons of .500 or above – Rebuilding was simply not in Shula’s vocabulary. Only twice did his teams finish with losing records – in 1976, when Miami went 6-8 and 1988, when the Dolphins went 6-10.

4 Coach of the Year awards – No head coach has ever won as many AP Coach of the Year awards as Shula, a three-time victor with the Colts in 1964, 1967 and 1968, and, of course, in 1972 with the Dolphins.

6 Super Bowl appearances – At the time of his retirement, no coach had appeared in more Super Bowls than Shula, who had a 2-4 record in the Big Dance. Belichick, who has taken the Patriots to nine Super Bowls, has since broken that record.

5 Super Bowl quarterbacks – While Tom Brady has been Belichick’s quarterback for each of his nine Super Bowls in New England, Shula was able to win with a record variety of signal callers. He used Unitas, Marino, Bob Griese, Earl Morrall and David Woodley in Super Bowls.