Donald Francis "Don" Shula was born January 4, 1930 in Grand River, Ohio. He's one of the most famous coaches in NFL history for his career with the Baltimore Colts and the Miami Dolphins.
Many people don't realize how good of a football player Shula was himself. After attending John Carroll University and starring on the football team, the defending NFL champion Cleveland Browns drafted him in the 9th round in 1951. Shula made the team, one of only two rookies, and played in 12 games that season for a team that finished 11-1 and lost in the championship games. He had 4 interceptions that season. Shula played for the Browns, Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins. In seven NFL seasons, Shula intercepted 21 passes and recovered four fumbles.
After his playing career, Shula got into the coaching profession, starting as an assistant at the University of Virginia and then University of Kentucky. He got his first NFL job coaching the defensive backs of the Detroit Lions in 1960. In 1963, Shula became head coach of the Baltimore Colts, and at the age of 33 he was the youngest in NFL history. In just his second season he guided the team to a 12-2 record and despite losing in the championship game to the Cleveland Browns, Shula was named NFL Coach of the Year. He coached one of the great quarterbacks in NFL history in Johnny Unitas. While Shula won another Coach of the year Award, he never brought a championship to Baltimore, losing Super Bowl III to Joe Namath and the New York Jets as heavy favorites.
But in 1970, Shula's luck would change. He would sign with the Dolphins, where he would coach the team until 1995. The 1971 team would make the Super Bowl, but lose 24-3 to the Dallas Cowboys. The next two seasons Shula would bring a championship back to Miami, including the famous 1972 team that went 17-0 and is still the only undefeated team in NFL history. Shula got back to the Super Bowl two more times, failing to ever win again. His six Super Bowl appearances (one with the Colts) is a coaching record.
Shula is also famous for coaching Dan Marino. The two made the Super Bowl in 1984 in Marino's rookie season but lost to the San Francisco 49ers. Still, Marino and the Dolphins offense was magical to watch for the next 11 seasons. The two formed a bond and appeared together in many commercials, and even the Ave Ventura movie. Remember this comical scene?
Shula currently holds the NFL record for most career wins with 347, most regular-season wins (328), and only had two losing seasons in his 36-year career of coaching in the NFL. Here's to you Don Shula. Happy Birthday.