By Lizette Robles - May 09, 2020
Don Shula, the National Football League’s “winningest coach,” died Monday at age 90.
His remarkable career broke records that remain unmatched to this day. There’s no question he was a formidable opponent on the gridiron, but he was a warrior off the field, as well.
“The Shula story is more than just football,” said H. Lee Moffitt, founder of Moffitt Cancer Center. “Don had a tremendous voice in the war against cancer.”
Shula joined Moffitt Cancer Center’s national Board of Advisors in 2008. The advisors serve as Moffitt ambassadors and offer their expertise, advice and counsel on guiding the cancer center.
The Don Shula Foundation was established in 1992 as a tribute to Shula’s late wife, Dorothy, who died after an eight-year battle with breast cancer. The foundation was formed primarily to help drive breast cancer research. Moffitt’s Don & Erika Wallace Comprehensive Breast Program has been a recipient of millions from the foundation for many years.
In 2014, the foundation established The Shula Fund to support cutting-edge research projects at Moffitt that generate new treatments and prevention strategies for breast cancer patients. The funds have helped to support recent scientific advancements in breast cancer research at Moffitt including guidance on the best use of genetic counseling and testing, assessing a gene mutation’s impact on cancer risk and lifestyle, and identifying environmental risk factors contributing to the disease.
When the Shula Fund was created, Coach Shula said, “Cancer has touched our family personally, and I know that the more we give to cancer research, the closer we are to finding a cure. We want to make a difference in this fight, and we believe The Shula Fund will help do just that.”
On the field, Shula’s record as head coach of the Miami Dolphins (1970-95) and before that as head coach of the Baltimore Colts (1963-69) remains unmatched. He is one of only three coaches in NFL history to win more than 300 games in his career. In addition, Shula won back-to-back titles in 1972 and 1973, one of only five coaches in the NFL to win consecutive Super Bowls. His 1972 Dolphins went 17-0, recording the league’s only undefeated season to date.
Shula coached three Hall of Fame quarterbacks, including Bob Griese, chair of Moffitt’s Board of Advisors.
“We lost someone who cannot be replaced, who cannot be equaled, and who personified everything that is right not only about our sport, but also about the way we all should conduct ourselves,” said Griese. “Coach’s support of breast cancer research was all about being a role model and doing what was right.”
On July 26, 1997, Shula capped an illustrious career when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, his first year of eligibility. Shula’s unanimous election to the hall was the ultimate honor in a career full of record-setting accomplishments.
According to a statement issued by the Miami Dolphins, Shula passed away peacefully at his home May 4. He is survived by his wife, Mary Anne, and a combined family of eight children, 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Shula’s legacy will live on at Moffitt Cancer Center in the research conducted and the countless number of lives touched by his generosity.