Bill Belichick is arguably the best coach in NFL history. However, he understands the impact Don Shula made during his 33 years as a head coach with the Baltimore Colts and the Miami Dolphins. Shula died at the age of 90 on Monday, and NFL fans paid tribute to him on social media. Players and coaches also sent messages to the Shula family, including Belichick, who has known Shula for a number of years.
"Don Shula is one of the all-time great coaching figures and the standard for consistency and leadership in the NFL," Belichick said in a statement. "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."
In some ways, Belichick and Shula's careers are similar. Belichick has been the head coach of the Patriots since 2000. He has led the team to nine Super Bowl appearances while winning six of those games. Before joining the Patriots, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1995. His only winning season was in 1994, leading the team to an 11-5 record. In Belichick's 25 years as an NFL head coach, he has won a total of 273 games.
As for Shula, he led the Dolphins to five Super Bowl appearances while winning two. He was also the head coach of the Colts from 1963-1969 and led the team to two NFL Championship games with the team winning the title in 1968. In his 33 years as a head coach, Shula only had two losing seasons (1976 and 1988).
"I don't think anyone thinks 50 years into the future when deciding on anything, but I remember thinking I wanted to be the best coach I could be for the Dolphins," Shula wrote on the Dolphins official website back in February. "As it turned out, looking back at the last 50 years, I'm very glad I signed that contract. We won a lot of games, including two Super Bowls, and put together the only undefeated season in NFL history."