Commissioner Roger Goodell has established "The Coach Shula Award," which in each season will honor a football coach who displays the integrity, achievement and positive impact on others exemplified by the winningest coach in NFL history, the league announced Sunday.
"Don Shula not only set coaching records on the football field," Goodell said, "but also had an extraordinarily positive influence on so many lives. As a coach, he was a teacher and mentor who inspired the men he led to pursue excellence with integrity throughout their lives. It is important for us a league to preserve coach Shula's legacy by continuing to recognize and encourage his inspirational leadership through this award."
Goodell and Shula will formulate a nomination process and panel that will select the annual winner of "The Coach Shula Award." Nominees can be NFL coaches or coaches at any level of football who have displayed the qualities represented by Don Shula. A timetable for the selection and announcement of the initial winner of "The Coach Shula Award" will be determined after the Super Bowl.
"I am honored that Commissioner Goodell has created this award to honor football coaches that live with integrity and have the right impact on other people," Shula said. "I always relished the teaching and mentoring aspect of being a coach as being the most important thing we did. I look forward to working with Commissioner Goodell and his team to recognize that positive impact that our game can have on our society."
Following a seven-year career as an NFL player (1951 to 1957 with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins as a defensive back and halfback), Don Shula became an NFL coach. He was head coach of the Colts from 1963 to 1969 and of the Miami Dolphins from 1970 to 1995. He won more games (347) than any head coach in NFL history, including Super Bowl VII and VIII. Shula's 1972 Dolphins recorded the NFL's only perfect season (17-0).
Shula served as co-chairman of the NFL Competition Committee for many years. In addition, he always has dedicated time and resources to philanthropic endeavors and continues to serve his community. He also has been successful in business as chairman of the Shula Steakhouse chain of restaurants.