- Hall of Fame NFL Coach Don Shula passed away at 90 on Monday morning.
- Shula compiled an NFL-record 347 wins in his 33 years as a coach and won two Super Bowl titles, including the NFL’s only undefeated season with the Miami Dolphins in 1972.
- Shula’s accolades are even more impressive when viewed through the lens of historical NFL game lines, which show how formidable his teams really were.
- Coach Shula lives on through his wife and five children.
MIAMI – Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and two-time Super Bowl champion coach Don Shula died early Monday morning in his South Florida home, according to sources. He was 90 years old.
There have been no details on the cause of death.
Players, coaches, and executives, both current and former, throughout the NFL took time to express their respect for Shula and offer condolences to his family.
Don Shula’s Legacy, Told Through NFL Game Lines
Data on betting lines in the NFL is spotty prior to the 1970s, and Don Shula’s history with sports betting began in rocky fashion, with his Baltimore Colts losing in the Super Bowl as 17-point favorites to the Joe Namath-led New York Jets.
After the following season, Shula moved to South Florida to coach the Maimi Dolphins in 1970, marking the beginning of one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history. While Shula’s record has received plenty of attention, NFL game line data gives a remarkable overview of just how dominant Shula was.
His record of 216-192-17 (52.9%) against the spread is good for such a massive sample size, but the most telling statistic is that his teams were favored in 293 out of his 423 career games with the Dolphins—nearly 70%.
Sportsbooks simply learned to expect excellence from Shula coached teams, and he rarely disappointed.
Shula also has a winning record against the spread both on the road and at home as both an underdog and a favorite. In other words, regardless of the circumstances, Shula’s teams always played to their maximum capability.
His undefeated 1972 season—still the gold standard for NFL seasons—featured a 13-3-1 record against the spread, despite being favored by over a full touchdown per game on average.
Shula’s team not only outscored opponents by more than 15 points per game, but beat the spread by an average of 6.4 points per game.
Shula capped the year off with a 14-7 victory in the Super Bowl over the Washington Redskins, who were two-point favorites largely because of pre-existing bias against old AFL teams like the Dolphins.
It was the crowning moment of a career full of them, and while several coaches have reached the same dizzying heights as Shula’s career in the intervening years, none will ever match his indomitable spirit or his endless passion for the game of football.
Shula’s Legacy Continued
Shula, who coached 33 years in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts and the Miami Dolphins, lives on through his wife Mary Anne, as well as his five children Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne, and Mike.
Mike and Dave have both followed in their father’s footsteps. Mike is the quarterbacks’ coach for the Denver Broncos, while Dave coaches receivers at Dartmouth University.
Don Shula’s Hall of Fame career included two Super Bowl victories with the Miami Dolphins in the 1970s, including the NFL’s first and only perfect record, as well as an NFL record 347 career victories as a coach.
His 1972 Dolphins, who capped a 14-0 regular season with a Super Bowl victory in the playoffs, are widely considered to be one of, if not the greatest, football team of all time. Shula repeated his title in 1973.
He was named the Associated Press’s Coach of the Year four times (1964, 1967, 1968, 1972)
His two championship runs were part of a run of five consecutive double-digit win seasons in an era when teams played only 14 games.
Prior to coaching for the Dolphins, Shula played seven years in the NFL as a defensive back. After being drafted in the 9th round of the 1951 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Shula started 60 games and tallied 21 interceptions for the Browns, the Baltimore Colts, and the Washington Redskins.
News tags: 1972 Miami Dolphins | Baltimore Colts | Dartmouth Big Green | Denver Broncos | Don Shula | Miami Dolphins | NFL | Pro Football Hall of Fame | Super Bowl | Super Bowl VII | Super Bowl VIII | Washington Redskins
With a dual background in English and sports performance and business analytics, Carter aims to write stories that both engage and inform the reader. He prides himself on his ability to interweave empirical data and traditional narrative storytelling. When he isn’t keeping readers up to date on the latest sports betting legal news, he’s banging his head against a wall regretting his decision to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan.