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Don Shula remembered: Reactions to the death of a Dolphins icon

Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula gives quarterback Dan Marino a congratulatory hug as Marino was honored for breaking three passing records previously held by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton, Dec. 11, 1995.
Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula gives quarterback Dan Marino a congratulatory hug as Marino was honored for breaking three passing records previously held by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton, Dec. 11, 1995. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

MIAMI – The death of iconic Dolphins coach Don Shula is being felt throughout South Florida and far beyond.

Here are some notable reactions and remembrances:

Dan Marino, former Dolphins quarterback: “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.”

Bob Griese, former Dolphins quarterback: “I was saddened to learn of the passing of Coach Shula. He was the driving force behind everything we accomplished with the Dolphins. Whether it was his force of will, his organization, his work ethic, sense of integrity, or his total focus on winning, he molded us into champions. And the entire time he was doing that, he served as a role model for all that was right in sports.

“While he started out as my coach, over time he became more than that. He became a mentor, and even better, a great friend. It was more than just a coach/player relationship; we had a personal bond that included our families that only two close friends could share. I cherish that part of my time with Coach Shula as much as the championships we won together.

“We lost someone who cannot be replaced, who cannot be equaled, and who personified everything that is right not only about our sport, but about the way we all should conduct ourselves. I want to pass along my condolences to Mary Anne and the entire Shula family. I will miss him.”

Jack Nicklaus, golf legend: “I met Don Shula when he took over the Dolphins. It was at La Gorce in Miami, where I worked with Jack Grout. Don sat down for lunch with a guy he didn’t know, just talk football. What a wonderfully nice man he was. That started a special friendship I’ve cherished for 50 years.

“Don and I played golf a number of times over the years, and we always had a great time. Our paths crossed many times at various charity functions. Barbara and I heard from Don just a few months ago when he sent us a wonderful message for our 80th birthdays.

“His words made us smile and filled our hearts—hearts hurting today with the passing of a legend, a legendary man, and a friend. Our thoughts, prayers and love go out to his wife Mary Anne, the Shula family, and his very large extended family in South Florida.”

Larry Csonka, former Dolphins running back: “Hard to believe he’s gone. He was such a dominant force. I fully expected he’d live to see 100. Winning was critical to him but winning WITHIN THE RULES was more important. There was only 1 perfect team in the first 100 yrs of the NFL and Coach Shula is the reason!”

Dick Anderson, former Dolphins safety: “He was a perfectionist, and he pushed us to a level higher than we thought we could get to. He screamed and yelled on the sidelines and pushed you to get better. … That’s why we were successful. His record speaks for itself ... He has the only perfect season in 100 years of football.”

Nat Moore, former Dolphins receiver and current VP: “He was a mentor. He was a second father figure. He was a guy that taught you right from wrong.”

Mark Clayton, former Dolphins receiver: “I was sadden to hear this morning of the passing of the greatest coach in NFL history. My coach for 10 years. Coach Shula took a chance on me and the rest is history. My condolences to the family. Best coach on earth, best coach in heaven. RIP Coach”

Troy Stradford, former Dolphins running back: “RIP Coach @DonShula !!! You’ve touched hundreds of thousands, you’ve coached thousands and each has their story. Thank you for touching me personally!!!”

Tom Garfinkel, Dolphins Vice Chairman, President and CEO: “Today is a sad day. Coach Shula was the rare man who exemplified true greatness in every aspect of his life. He will be so missed by so many but his legacy of character and excellence will endure. All my best to Mary Anne and the Shula family.”

Stephen Ross, Dolphins owner: “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.”

Brian Flores, Dolphins coach: “Don Shula is a legend who had an incredible impact on the game of football. ... His impact went far beyond games won and championships. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Chris Grier, Dolphins general manager: “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.”

Carlos Giménez, Miami-Dade County Mayor: “It could be argued that this community came together for the first time when the Dolphins were winning Super Bowl championships. So he’s much more than just a sports figure in our town. He’s a legend in our town.”

Ron DeSantis, Florida governor: “Coach Don Shula leaves behind an incomparable legacy as the NFL’s winningest coach and as the one who put Miami sports on the map. We will remember the great feats, like the only perfect season in NFL history, but also the qualities – hard work, character, decency – that made Don Shula not just a great coach, but also a great man.”

Jimmy Johnson, Hall of Fame ex-Dolphins coach: “Rip, one of the greatest of all time..Don Shula ..he set the standard.”

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots coach: “Don Shula is one of the all-time great coaching figures and the standard for consistency and leadership in the NFL. I was fortunate to grow up in Maryland as a fan of the Baltimore Colts who, under Coach Shula, were one of the outstanding teams of that era. My first connection to Coach Shula was through my father, whose friendship with Coach Shula went back to their days in northeast Ohio. I extend my deepest condolences to the Shula family and the Dolphins organization.”

Pat Riley, Miami Heat president: “There was no better man or coach in the history of the profession than Coach Don Shula. He was tough, courageous and an authentic leader with great integrity in his pursuit of perfection, which he achieved! I followed his coaching philosophies with great eagerness since moving to Miami and my respect for him helped mold me not only as a coach, but also as a man. My heart and prayers go out to his wife, Mary Anne, and his entire family at this time. May God bless you as you continue to spread your light while teaching in your new locker room. Rest In Peace Coach.”

Bill Cowher, Hall of Fame NFL coach: “We lost one of the most iconic men in the history of NFL coaching in Don Shula. His leadership and wisdom helped to guide me and many others who have made a life in coaching football. Thank you Coach Shula. May your spirit and legacy live on forever. RIP”

Alex Rodriguez, former baseball star: “Deeply saddened to hear the passing of Coach Don Shula. He always treated me so well & was so kind to my family. He was a champion on the sidelines, one of the greatest. Off the field, he did so much philanthropic work in the community. A true legend who will be greatly missed.”

Peyton Manning, Former NFL quarterback: “Coach Shula’s philosophies & his coaching methods spread far & wide. He will be missed. His impact on the NFL and so many players is unmatched and legendary.”

Twan Russell, former Dolphins linebacker: “There are nearly 7.8b people in the world. How many will say they’ve impacted as many people at @DonShula. He was an imperfect man striving for perfection and got it once. The rest of the time he came really close. What a legacy we were given. #RIPGOAT

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner: ​"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."

NFL Players Association: “As a player with the Baltimore Colts, @DonShula played a key role in helping form our union back in 1956. His impact on the game of football is immeasurable and he will truly be missed. #RIP”

David Baker, Pro Football Hall of Fame President & CEO: “The Game has lost one of the greats today, but we have all lost a truly incredible man. Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula served as an ambassador for this great game for more than half a century. His legendary feats on the gridiron led him to a record 347 wins to become the winningest coach in NFL history and allowed him to lead the 1972 Dolphins to the only perfect season in NFL history. Coach Shula was a man who truly loved the game and I have often been moved by the deep respect and affection he was always afforded by the men who played for him. The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Coach Shula. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Mary Anne and their entire family. The Hall of Fame flag will fly at half-staff and we will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations.”

Udonis Haslem, Miami native and Heat forward :R.I.P to the great Coach Don Shula....🐐💔😢 #finsup🐬4L #LEGEND🕊

Kenyan Drake, former Dolphins running back: “‘One thing I never want to be accused of is not working.’ RIP Coach Don Shula. Even though I never personally met Coach Shula that quote was on the wall above the doors before you walked out of the facility in Miami. Through the best and worse days it reminded me to never settle for less than my best. Thanks coach

Randal Hill, Miami native and former Dolphins receiver: “It’s a sad day in South Florida. It’s a sad day nationwide, because Don Shula is a sports icon,” Miami native and former Dolphin Randal Hill said. “But it should also be a celebration, because the average person doesn’t live as long as he lived. So, Don Shula wins again.”

Shula family statement: “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!”

SET A REMINDER: Local 10 will air a special on Don Shula Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
SET A REMINDER: Local 10 will air a special on Don Shula Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

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Some of Don Shula’s most memorable quotes

Don Shula has died; Dolphins’ legendary coach was 90


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