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Happy 88th Birthday Don Shula!

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Icon Sportswire

On January 4th, 1930 in Grand River, Ohio, one of the iconic coaches in the history of the NFL was born. Today, Don Shula is 88 years old.

Certainly, in South Florida, Shula is revered as the all time best. Now, in Green Bay with Vince Lombardi, in Chicago with George Halas, Dallas with Tom Landry and so on, they believe it’s their guy. However, when you look at what Shula represented for Miami, the Dolphins, the communities around the team, etc. including his longevity, it’s tough to argue.

We wrote previously, that long before Bill Belichick in New England began to dominate in the 2000’s, Shula was the standard for success in NFL coaching.

The numbers are astounding: 347 career regular and post season combined NFL wins. Belichick, with 15 years of Patriots dominance, has 276 heading to the playoffs this year. It will take him at least seven more seasons of winning the average of 10 games to get to Shula neighborhood.

Amazing.

Besides the AFC Championships (five), Super Bowl wins (two), and all of the coaching accomplishments, a lot of Fins fans might not realize he actually began as a player in the NFL.

From 1951-57 he played for the Browns, Colts and Redskins in 73 games and had 21 career interceptions.

And you might even win a bet with a football fan, that Shula was not the original coach of the expansion Miami Dolphins, he actually joined them in their fifth season, 1970, after having coached the Baltimore Colts for seven years. In fact, Shula was the Colts coach for the famous Joe Namath “guarantee” Super Bowl III, in the Orange Bow in Miami.

Shula went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997, and his legacy of charitable endeavors like his foundation that has benefited breast cancer research for over 20 years, since his first wife’s death are well known.

Also in his legacy is his son David coach the Cincinnati Bengals and his younger son Mike, has been the successful offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers for years.

Just remember, for all the modern successes in pro and college football coaching: Belichick, Nick Saban in college, etc., there first was a guy who did it for 33 years in the NFL.

And he’s reached the one name status that the icons have reached, as well: Shula.

Happy Birthday, coach!

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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