Don Shula was the greatest NFL coach of all time.
Yes, that is subjective. And an argument can be made for Vince Lombardi and Bill Walsh. A case can be stated that Chuck Noll won more Super Bowls. And I know George Halas and Paul Brown were league cornerstones well before Shula came on the scene.
But as Shula used to say, "There's a reason we keep score and there's a reason we have standings."
Shula won more games than anyone else.
And Shula was the only man to guide an NFL team to an undefeated and untied Super Bowl title. The 1972 Dolphins were 17-0. Perfect.
Shula coached the Dolphins from 1970 to January 1996. That means a lot of Dolphins fans today never watched a Shula team play. A lot of Dolphins fans today never watched Shula coach.
They know Shula more as a restaurant than a football coach.
Those people should watch the NFL Network tonight at 9 p.m. when Don Shula A Football Life will air, recalling the Dolphins' heyday, examining the history of a coach and the franchise he helped establish as elite, examining a fascinating man who will forever cast a shadow over every coach the Dolphins will have.
"People ask me how I coach as long as I coached, for 33 years," Shula says early in the broadcast. "I tell them, 'you have to win early and often.'"
Shula did that. But he did something else. He won early and often and then kept winning. And winning. And winning. He had only two losing seasons in 33 years.
Shula was a pillar. He was around from the Korean War through the Cold War. He coached Unitas and Marino. He coached teams that ran better than any other. He coached teams that passed better than any other.
"He is a measure above normal men," Irving Fryar says in the piece.
"... He would cut his mother ...," Nick Buoniconti says of Shula's approach.
Shula remains the man against whom I measure other coaches -- not just Dolphins coaches, but all NFL coaches. He was very kind to young, cub reporter named Salguero. And we built a mutual trust. I knew he'd never lie. I knew integrity was woven into the fabric of his being. I knew that with Shula coaching the Dolphins, I'd be covering the team in the playoffs practically every year.
If you are old enough to remember Shula on the Dolphins sideline, watch A Football Life this evening to recall the good old days. If you are too young to remember Shula, watch A Football Life as an education.
After the 9 p.m. broadcast Shula will appear in studio at 10 p.m. on NFL Network to discuss the backstory of the documentary. It's an all-Don Shula primetime on NFL Network tonight.