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AC In The AM: Just A Patch? Not With Shula's Name On It

It seems only fitting, doesn't it, that the Don Shula patch to be worn on the jersey of every Dolphins' player this season, is positioned just about over the heart.

After all, nobody brought more heart to this franchise than Shula.

Heart and plenty of soul.

Someday, when the pandemic is over, when this brutal virus is thoroughly under control, the Dolphins I'm sure will hold a celebration of Shula's life. There will be speeches and videos and cheers and thousands of people finally getting to pay their respects to the greatest pro football coach of all time.

But as much as that celebration can't come soon enough, the sobering reality of our times suggests a more low-key approach to honor the man who left us at the age of 90 only a few short months ago.

Thus, the patch. Classy move. Richly deserved. And an every-game reminder of how fortunate we all were to be able to witness so much of his remarkable journey.

The Dolphins made the announcement on Thursday and unveiled the patch to be worn this season, also noting that coaches and team personnel will wear a pin with the same look. It isn't fancy or glitzy. In many ways, just like Shula. What it does is simply state what separated Shula from every other coach in NFL history.

Shula. 347. What more needs to be said? The man and the number, a number that represents his final win total, a number that may never be surpassed.

"Don Shula's lasting impact on the Miami Dolphins, NFL and South Florida community is immeasurable," said Owner Stephen Ross. "We are proud to continue honoring his historic life and legacy with a patch that is emblematic of his success on the football field as the winningest coach in our league's history."

Photos of the jersey patch honoring legendary football coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula.

The Dolphins have worn patches before, the most glaring examples during their 25th and 50th seasons. But for an individual? There was a black armband for former owner Joe Robbie. There have been helmet stickers to remember some players who have passed away.

But a patch? Don Shula will be the first, his name and his number prominently displayed on the front of every jersey. Yes, on the left side. Yes, as previously stated, right near the heart.

It's been 25 years since Shula last coached a game for the Dolphins meaning that today's players have little or no recollection of his intimidating presence on the sidelines, of the way he embraced every challenge, every game, and the manner in which he pushed his teams beyond what they thought were its limits.

Who knows, maybe that patch will bring Shula and the excellence he demanded a little closer to these current Dolphins' players. Maybe they'll look at that patch as an example of the price they need to pay and of the level of success this franchise so badly wants to approach once again.

Just a patch, you say? Not with Shula's name on it. Not with 347 there as well.

It's not the celebration of his life that many of his envisioned before our world was turned upside down by this virus. That will have to wait. But until that day comes, the patch will serve as a wonderful reminder of the man and his greatest career accomplishment and how this organization will never lose sight of the impact Shula had on so many lives.

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