Sunday, July 26 marked an important anniversary in Miami Dolphins history, as it was on this day in 1997 that legendary coach Don Shula was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
That Shula would end up in Canton had been a given for a long time, but on this day he officially became the sixth member of the Dolphins to be enshrined.
Breaking tradition, Shula had not one but two presenters for his induction, his sons David and Mike.
"Larry Csonka said it best for all of us, some days we love to love him, some days we love to hate him, but we always, always loved him," the brothers said in unison. "Ladies and Gentleman, we present to you, the newest member of the NFL Hall of Fame, our dad, Don Shula!"
Shula began his speech by reflecting on his journey from Grand River, Ohio, just 50 miles away from the Hall of Fame home in Canton.
He then reflected on his career with the Dolphins.
"The one thing that I know is that you win with good people," Shula said. "The Hall of Famers that I've coached, you got Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Larry Csonka sitting over there, Paul Warfield, some other guys offensively that I hope are soon going to be considered for the Hall of Fame, Bob Kuechenberg, Dwight Stephenson. We got Nat Moore sitting out here who has done so many things. And a defense, what a defense, a "No Name Defense" in those years led by Bill Arnsparger, who's here today and what a defensive coach. Nick Buoniconti, Dick Anderson, Jake Scott, Manny Fernandez, Bill Stanfill. Two Super Bowls, 32-2 in two years, we've go to get a defensive player from those teams into the Hall of Fame and I hope that someday that we're going to be able to recognize one of those players.
"And I also want to talk about other players that gave me everything that they had to give on special teams, practice squad, whatever. Their dedication and effort was the main reason that I was able to win so many games."
Shula died in May at the age of 90, and since his induction the Dolphins also have had to say goodbye to some of the names Shula mentioned in his speech — Langer, Kuechenberg, Arnsparger, Stanfill and Buoniconti.
Shula coached the Dolphins from 1970 through 1995 and ended his legendary career with a recored of 347-173-6. He remained a Vice Chairman of the Dolphins organization until his death. A statue depicting Shula getting carried off the field after Super Bowl V was placed in 2010 in front of Hard Rock Stadium, whose corporate address is 347 Don Shula Drive.
Shula became head coach of the Dolphins on Feb. 18, 1970 after seven years coaching the Baltimore Colts.
He guided the Dolphins to their first playoff appearance in his first year and had them in the Super Bowl the following year. The Dolphins then won back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1972-73, amassing a 32-2 record over that span. In 1972, the Dolphins went 14-0 in the regular season before defeating the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC playoffs and then capping things off with a 14-7 victory against the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
Shula broke George Halas' all-time coaching victories record Nov. 14, 1993 when the Dolphins defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 19-14, with current Eagles head coach Doug Pederson coming off the bench to play quarterback after starter Scott Mitchell was injured.
Shula is one of only six coaches in NFL history to have coached the same team for 20 or more consecutive seasons. Shula completed 26 seasons with the Dolphins. Green Bay’s Curley Lambeau (1921-49) and Dallas’ Tom Landry (1960-88) share the record with 29 seasons each; Pittsburgh’s Chuck Noll (1969-91) and the N.Y. Giants’ Steve Owen (1931-53) coached 23 years with their teams, and Bill Belichick just finished his 20th season with the New England Patriots.