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Dolphins, NFL Family Pay Tribute To Don Shula

The Shula Family

"The Shula family thanks all those who have shared their sorrow over the passing of Our Coach. He was an inspiration to us all for his Faith, love of Family & Community. He is remembered as a great leader who shaped many lives by his example. He left us Still Undefeated!"

Stephen Ross

"If there were a Mt. Rushmore for the NFL, Don Shula certainly would be chiseled into the granite. He won more games than any coach in the NFL, and his 1972 "Perfect Season" team stands alone in the 100-year history of the league. His contributions to his sport, to the Miami Dolphins franchise, and to the South Florida community will have a lasting impact. We were so fortunate to have him associated with the Dolphins for 50 years, and he was a source of inspiration to me every time I was around him. There will never be anyone like him, and I want to extend my condolences to his wife, Mary Anne, and the entire Shula family."

Tom Garfinkel

"Coach Shula exemplified greatness in every aspect of his life. The winningest coach of all time, the only perfect season, a great father, loving husband, and generous friend. He was a champion on the field and a champion in life. He meant so much to all of South Florida and the game of football. We will all miss him dearly but his legacy of character and excellence will endure."

Chris Grier

"No one had more of an impact on the success and winning tradition of the Miami Dolphins than Coach Shula. He was an incredible leader and an even better person. I am forever grateful for the interactions I have had with him over the past 20 years. I am thinking of Mary Anne and the rest of the Shula family."

Larry Little

"It's a very sad day to lose an icon like that. He was not only a great coach, but also a great person who had a huge impact on my career. He made me a captain his second year in Miami, and kept me a captain the rest of my career. I became a good player because of him, and I'll always be grateful for that. In fact, I have so much respect for him I asked him to be my introducer when I was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's how much I thought of him. He was a man of character, honesty, and integrity, and as I quickly found out, he let everyone know exactly how he felt. The very first time I met him was at his first press conference in Miami after becoming our head coach. I went up to him to introduce myself and said, "Coach, I'm Larry Little and I'm your right guard. He looked at me and asked me how much I weighed. When I told him I weighed 285 pounds, he shook his head and walked off. It wasn't long before I got a letter from him telling me to report at 265. I had to lose 20 pounds for that man. But he was right -- my career took off after that happened. I always appreciated everything he did for me, and I'm sorry to learn of his passing."

Bob Baumhower

"I went to high school in Palm Beach Gardens and was a big fan of the Dolphins, so to be drafted by Coach Shula and the team was a dream come true. I had the opportunity to play under him for 10 years. When I look back at our time together, I realize how much I owe to him. He moved me to a position I never wanted to play (nose tackle) and that led to my career being as long as it was. Because he drafted me, I met my wife, had my children and even went into the restaurant business. He was such an important figure in my life. He will be remembered forever."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

"Don Shula will always be remembered as one of the greatest coaches and contributors in the history of our game. He made an extraordinarily positive impact on so many lives. The winningest coach in NFL history and the only one to lead a team to a perfect season, Coach Shula lived an unparalleled football life. As a player, Hall of Fame coach, and long-time member and co-chair of the NFL Competition Committee, he was a remarkable teacher and mentor who for decades inspired excellence and exemplified integrity. His iconic legacy will endure through his family and continue to inspire generations to come. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Don's wife Mary Anne along to his children Dave, Donna, Sharon and Mike, the Shula family, and the Dolphins organization."

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue

"Don Shula represented the highest standards of excellence by virtually any measure. His contributions to the NFL and the game of football extended far beyond his all-time record victory total. Don also was an all-time winner when it came to integrity, honesty and class. The NFL owes him a great deal for his tremendous loyalty and work on behalf of the league and football fans across America. My wife, Chan, and I extend deepest condolences to Mary Anne, his sons David and Mike and the entire Shula family."

Dan Marino

"Coach Shula will truly be missed. He embodied the definition of 'greatness.' He brought that winning attitude with him every day and made everyone around him better. I want to thank him for always believing in me. He made me a better player and person. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Shula family."

Larry Csonka

"I was saddened and surprised to hear of Coach Shula's passing. He was always a source of strength and motivation for me, and it's hard to believe he's gone.

He changed everything when he got to Miami. He simply would not accept losing. To me, the most memorable moment with him wasn't any of our wins, but after a loss in Super Bowl VI. Right after the game, when it was only the players and coaches in the locker room, he said, 'I want every one of you to remember how you feel right now, so that you never feel this way again. I want to go into next year with the goal of doing everything we can to win each of the games we get ready to play.'

He did the same thing the first day of training camp, and even showed us a tape of the game. He repeated his challenge for us to play every game like it's the most important game of the year. I remember looking at Jim Kiick, knowing it was 90 degrees outside, and saying 'Oh, God, we are really into it now.' But it worked, and we lived up to his challenge by winning every game we played.

He was always looking for what he called 'the winning edge,' but he had a sense of integrity to go with it. He wanted to win, but only if it was within the rules. He wouldn't have any part of bending any of the rules, let alone breaking them. That's who he was – winning meant everything, but not at a cost to his principles. That's why he meant so much to us; we learned a lot of lessons from him that went beyond the football field.

I don't know where old coaches and players go when they pass away, but wherever that is, it just changed dramatically. There's a lightning bolt coming with Coach Shula's arrival."

Paul Warfield

"I want to extend my condolences to Mary Anne and the rest of the Shula family that I have gotten to know over the years.

Coach Shula was one of the greats of the game in terms of winning, from his beginning as a head coach with the Colts and then of course with the Dolphins, when he built on his success in Baltimore to become the winningest coach in football. And it wasn't just winning -- it was putting together the only perfect season in the history of the NFL.

I was able to join Don in Miami in 1970 and what he did in the span of one year to take an expansion team that had won no more than four games in any of those first four seasons and then to completely turn it around in one year to win ten games and make the playoffs is incredible. And he went from there to make history.

His ability to transform an expansion franchise almost overnight into the best team that ever played the game epitomized President Kennedy's definition of leadership when he said "We do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

Coaching in the NFL is not easy; it is hard. That is why coaches come and go.

But Don Shula proved he could do the hard things and put together an unmatched record in his sport. His leadership is what America is all about."

Dick Anderson

"I'll always remember what Coach Shula meant to the success of the Dolphins by thinking about his very first season here. We weren't very good when he arrived, but the transition after he took over was remarkable. He started that training camp with four practices a day, and each one had a clear purpose behind it. He planned for every minute, demanded flawless preparation and execution, and never accepted anything else except winning, even after the Perfect Season.

It seemed like he was always on my case. Once, Nick Buoniconti went up to him and told him to quit yelling at me and Shula told him to shut up and get back on the field. Shula never let up and that's what made us so great. He pushed you until you played better than you thought you could. That's what made us champions.

He also was smart enough to hire great coaches and let them do their job. Now each NFL team has 20 or so coaches, but back then we had only six. But they were great coaches that worked as a team, sharing the same work ethic and drive as Coach Shula. We never questioned what they taught us, and we went into every game thinking we were better prepared than our opponents. That was one of Coach Shula's greatest strengths.

Once I retired, I developed a wonderful long-time friendship with Coach Shula, including listening to all of his bad jokes, something I could never imagine as one of his players. But as a player and then as a friend, I always enjoyed being around him and it will be hard for me to believe he's no longer with us."

Peyton Manning

"First off, my thoughts and condolences go out to the entire Shula family—His wife, Mary Anne; David Shula, who works our football camp every year and we know very well; And of course Mike Shula, who coached Eli. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them.

I had a chance to visit with Coach Shula when we filmed an episode for the NFL's 100th year celebration on the Peyton's Places show. I was able to sit down and have lunch with him and several of his players on that '72 undefeated season. Just to see the love and respect that his players had for Coach Shula was very special to witness. To hear Bob Griese talk about him and Larry Csonka talk about him, and Larry Little… Just the reverence, the respect and the love—I think that every player would like to have that kind of relationship with one of their coaches. You can tell that these players especially had that relationship with Coach Shula. I know he felt the same about them.

It wasn't just those players. I used to hear Dan Marino talk about Coach Shula all of the time and what a father figure he was for him as well along with his own dad. Drafting Dan in 1983 and just being a mentor and giving him the freedom to call his own plays and to play quarterback the way Dan Marino could. Coach Shula had a big impact on him. It was just an honor to witness that and to hear players talk about their coach in that way. I think that's the ultimate compliment to any coach.

I just remember Coach Dungy talking about Coach Shula. Coach Dungy played for Chuck Noll. Chuck Noll played for Paul Brown. Coach Shula played for Paul Brown, so Coach Shula and the coaching tree spreads wide. I can remember Coach Dungy talking about Don Shula and some of his coaching philosophies. In a lot of ways, Coach Shula coached more than just his players.

"Coach Shula's philosophies and his coaching methods spread far and wide. He will be missed. His impact on the NFL and so many players is unmatched and legendary. May he rest in peace."

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez

"I'm deeply saddened by the passing of Dolphins coach Don Shula. He was the epitome of dignity, class and the pursuit of excellence. His legacy lives beyond the gridiron. The Miami Dolphins' 'Perfect Season' in 1972 under Coach Shula's leadership brought a rapidly growing and diverse community together. He made us One. As the winningest coach in NFL history, he put Miami-Dade on the national sports map. He stayed active as a businessman and community leader after retiring from coaching, always sharing his love for our county. Lourdes and I offer our heartfelt condolences to his family."