Don Shula Talks Great Coaching, Great Quarterbacks and Great Teams


(Paul Brown, courtesy of the Cincinnati Bengals)

Talk of Fame Network

Don Shula learned how to win football championships as a player long before he won them as a coach.

Shula played for the Cleveland Browns in the early 1950s -- a juggernaut built by Paul Brown that played in 10 consecutive championship games. This weekend those Browns are the final installment of the six-part dynasty series on the Talk of Fame Network. Co-host Ron Borges, by the way, recently crowned those Browns as the greatest dynasty in NFL history --

Shula is the featured guest on this week’s Talk of Fame Network show. He can appreciate the contribution of a head coach, having himself won more games than any coach in NFL history. And he certainly appreciated the contribution to those 1950s Browns by their own Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown.

“I always said he brought teaching into coaching,” Shula said. “He brought the classroom into pro football. He not only wanted you to be physical, he wanted to make sure you knew what you were doing and had a plan as to how you were going to get it done. He was ahead of a lot of old-time coaches who (believed) if you to beat them up physically (you) were going to win the game. He taught you how to do it.”

Shula played with one Hall of Fame quarterback (Otto Graham) and coached three others – Johnny Unitas, Bob Griese and Dan Marino. Four different types of quarterbacks and Shula pinpoints what made each one special.

Graham: “A great athlete. He was running back at Northwestern who Paul Brown made into a T-formation quarterback.”

Unitas: “The toughest guy mentally and physically that I ever coached.”

Griese: “One of the most intelligent players I’ve ever coached.”

Marino: “The best pure passer that’s ever played the game.”

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan also visited the show and talked about the prospect of the Hall of Fame one day enshrining assistant coaches. Ryan has a vested interest in that – his father, Buddy, was the architect of the 46 defense of the 1985 NFL champion Chicago Bears.

“If you are going to put assistant coaches in the Hall of Fame, I would think my dad would be right at the top of the list,” Rex said. “That would be quite an honor for sure.”

Ryan also talks great defense plus the pressures of coaching in the NFL. In addition to the interviews with Ryan and Shula, this week’s show features its weekly “Borges or Bogus” segment that addresses the future of Robert Griffin III, Rick Gosselin’s “Dr. Data” segment that focuses on the running back depth of the Baltimore Ravens, and Clark Judge states the Hall of Fame case of Jerome Bettis. And the show finishes up with the always entertaining two-minute drill.