John Carroll University alumnus and NFL legend Don Shula '51 has passed away at the age of 90.
Shula, originally of Painesville, Ohio, is the NFL’s all-time leader in wins by a head coach (347). He is the only John Carroll graduate enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Shula is survived by his wife, Mary Anne Stephens, and his five children: Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne, and Mike.
Shula’s time at John Carroll was highlighted by his accomplishments as a tailback. Paired with another JCU Hall-of-Fame runner, Carl Taseff, the back set a Blue Streaks mark with a 6.6 yard-per-carry average and was named an All-Big-Four honoree during his time on campus.
Shula was drafted by the Cleveland Browns upon graduation and spent seven years in the NFL as a player before making the transition to coaching. As a coach, Shula’s accomplishments were legendary.
Holding a career .665 winning percentage and holding a record of 347-173-6, the former Blue Streak led two different teams to Super Bowl and NFL championship appearances, in addition to making the postseason 19 times in a coaching career that spanned 33 years (1963-1995).
Sports Illustrated honored Shula in 1993 by naming him their Sportsperson of the Year. Shula became the first professional coach to receive the honor.
Shula’s coaching accomplishments are at an all-time level, but his character is what he’ll be remembered for. Quoted in his book Everyone’s a Coach: Five Business Secrets for High-Performance Coaching, Shula says: “I don’t know any other way to lead but by example.”
For generations since Shula’s time on John Carroll’s campus, students and athletes alike have taken these words and turned them into a mentality. His impact on the NFL and the Northeast Ohio region is one that will be far beyond his time.
His legacy lives on at John Carroll University through Don Shula Stadium, the Shula Chair in Philosophy, and the incredible legacy of fellow Blue Streaks in the NFL’s coaching and front office ranks.