While it seems like almost every NFL record that stood back in 1993 has since been broken, there’s at least one major mark that has stood the test of time: Don Shula’s all-time wins record. The former Dolphins coach passed fellow coaching legend George Halas as the league’s winningest head coach back in ’93 and finished with an NFL-best 328 regular-season victories (347 including playoffs). That record has remained unchanged and Shula held the mark all the way through his passing in May of 2020. While Shula continues to sit atop the NFL coaching mountain, New England’s Bill Belichick is closing in on the record.
Belichick currently sits at 280 career wins (311 including playoffs) and is third all-time behind Halas and Shula. The steward of the Patriots’ six Super Bowl titles finds himself 38 regular-season wins (just when 13 including playoffs) behind Halas for second-best on the all-time list and, as for Shula, Belichick is 48 regular-season wins (36 when including playoffs) away from getting even at the top spot.
While Belichick may be on the trajectory to one day surpass Shula and claim the all-time coaching wins record, it’ll come to the chagrin of Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.
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“I hope he don’t get it,” Marino told ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “I’m a Dolphin for life. Coach Shula for life. I don’t want him to get it.”
Of course, this stance by Marino is to be expected. As he noted, he’s a Dolphins lifer after spending his entire 17-year NFL career in Miami and 13 of those were under Shula, so loyalty to his guy isn’t shocking. Marino even noted how much Shula meant to him by explaining how he brought him along as a rookie in 1983.
“He was the best. He took care of me all the time. He was an incredible man and head coach. He taught me how to be in the community, be a leader, work hard. But from Day 1 — which I thought was genius — he said, ‘I want you to be the starting QB, so you have to learn this quickly, and now you’re going to call all your plays in practice and exhibition games,'” Marino said. “It takes more work instead of a coach telling you what to run — you have to think about it beforehand, you have to prepare for it beforehand.
“I always thought that was special, and probably different than what a lot of people do now, I’d imagine. It would be a lot harder to do it now than it was then, but it did put a lot of pressure on me to learn quickly.”
As it relates to Belichick possibly jumping over Shula for the record, it’s no sure thing. The head coach will enter the 2021 season at 69 years old and it’s unclear how much longer he plans on kicking around the league in his current post. If he plans on being in New England into his early to mid 70’s he’ll have his opportunity. If he’s looking towards retirement sooner rather than later, it gets that much more difficult. Also, the club does need to right the ship after a 7-9 season in 2020. If Mac Jones can ultimately live up to his first-round billing, that should help in Belichick’s hunt.
And as he attempts to do so, best believe Marino and other Shula disciples will rooting against him.