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Don Shula, N.F.L. Coach Who Won, and Won, and Won, Dies at 90

 Don Shula, N.F.L. Coach Who Won, and Won, and Won, Dies at 90


Don Shula, who won more games than any head coach in National Football League history, led the Miami Dolphins to the league’s only perfect season and helped usher pro football into its modern era, died on Monday in Florida. He was 90.
 Don Shula, N.F.L. Coach Who Won, and Won, and Won, Dies at 90

His death, at his home in Indian Creek, near Miami Beach, was announced by the Miami Dolphins on Twitter.

Shula,a steely tactician and taskmaster, built fearsome defenses and explosive offenses in taking his teams, the Baltimore Colts and the Dolphins, to six Super Bowls. He won two with the Dolphins, crowning the 1972 and 1973 seasons.

The 1972 campaign was historic: The Dolphins won all 14 regular-season games despite losing their star quarterback, Bob Griese, to an injury in the fifth game. With the top-ranked offense and defense, they went on to win the three playoff games and capture Super Bowl VII, an unmatched string of victories.

 Don Shula, N.F.L. Coach Who Won, and Won, and Won, Dies at 90

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“You were now the coach that won the big one, and that changed everything in my coaching career,” Shula said.

Shula’s career embodied the transition from an era of grind-it-out football to the high-flying modern one of glitzy entertainment and glamour. Unafraid to experiment, Shula helped introduce the pass-centric offenses that are standard today. His teams were perennial contenders and a mainstay on prime time television, which turned the N.F.L. into the nation’s richest league.
  Don Shula, N.F.L. Coach Who Won, and Won, and Won, Dies at 90

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His undefeated season came just three years after the merger of the old N.F.L. and the upstart A.F.L., and with the Dolphin’s Super Bowl victory over the Washington Redskins at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the league’s transformation into America’s new national pastime was all but complete.

 Don Shula, N.F.L. Coach Who Won, and Won, and Won, Dies at 90

With his perfect season Shula vanquished the ignominy of losing to Joe Namath and the New York Jets in Super Bowl III — one of the biggest upsets in professional sports — just three years earlier, when Shula coached the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. The game, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, gave the American Football League the legitimacy it craved while saddling Shula with the label of a coach unable to win on the biggest stage. It also signaled the victory of a flashier kind of football, led by an irrepressible Broadway Joe, over Shula’s blue-collar brand.
 Don Shula, N.F.L. Coach Who Won, and Won, and Won, Dies at 90
A year after that defeat, the Dolphins lured him away from the Colts, though the success he would go on to enjoy in Miami seemed improbable at the time. After entering the old American Football League in 1966, the Dolphins had won just 15 games in their first four seasons and just three games the year before Shula arrived.
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