The man who guided the Miami Dolphins to their greatest glory, Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, weighs in on his former team, chasing perfection and a great steak.
Who knows when Don Shula last had to buy a drink in Miami? Or wasn’t asked to autograph a picture or a football? Even now, 17 years after he retired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, the winningest coach in National Football League history remains a legend here.
The Don, now 82 and “on the injured reserved list,” according to wife Mary Anne, has some back issues and may have slowed down, but he’s still in the game. In fact, Shula and son David just launched a new chain of upscale burger franchises, Shula Burger, in addition to his long-established Shula’s restaurants, which now number 33 across the nation.
We met up with the coach during the opening weekend of The Post Card Inn and flagship Shula Burger at the former Holiday Isle Resort in Islamorada.
Here’s what the man whose 1972 Super Bowl squad remains the only team in NFL history to finish a season without a loss or tie had to say about his life these days.
Life after retirement: “After coaching 26 years in Miami and seven in Baltimore—33 years of being a head coach in the National Football League—I was ready to just not do much of anything. But then we got into the restaurant business and that proved interesting and exciting. We kept expanding, and we enjoyed that becoming part of our lives. My wife will tell you [that, at first] I had some difficulties; she would say, ‘Don’t you have anything to do today? Get out of the house.’
“Another difference is not having the pressure of game day. Everything you did in coaching was graded out by how you did on game day, what your record was at the end of the year, what your record was in your career. That determined what kind of a coach you were and what kind of success you had. In the restaurant business it’s a little harder to put your finger on it. [And you have a lot of different factors]. You want to be successful there the same way you want to be successful in the coaching profession.”
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