Larry Csonka was a key part of the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ undefeated season and expressed his dismay to hear his coach, Don Shula, had died Monday.
Csonka was 26 years old when he was on the Dolphins team. The Shula-led squad was the first team to finish the regular season undefeated and the only team to remain unbeaten through the Super Bowl. Csonka sent his condolences through a tweet.
“Hard to believe he’s gone. He was such a dominant force. I fully expected he'd live to see 100. Winning was critical to him but winning WITHIN THE RULES was more important. There was only 1 perfect team in the first 100 yrs of the NFL and Coach Shula is the reason!” Csonka tweeted.
Csonka was among those who paid tribute in Shula’s honor.
The Dolphins released a statement about Shula’s death.
“Don Shula was the patriarch of the Miami Dolphins for 50 years. He brought the winning edge to our franchise and put the Dolphins and the city of Miami in the national sports scene," the team said in a statement. "Our deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Mary Anne along with his children, Dave, Donna, Sharon, Anne and Mike.”
Shula got his start coaching with the Baltimore Colts in 1963 when he was just 33. He coached the Colts from 1963 to 1969 before taking over the Dolphins in 1970. With the Colts, Shula was 71-23-4 and led the team to an NFL Championship in 1968.
He coached the Dolphins for 26 seasons, with his final season coming in 1995. He led the Dolphins to five AFC Championships and two Super Bowl victories while the coach of the Fish.
His team with Bob Griese and Csonka became the only one to finish the regular season unbeaten and win the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots would eventually be the second team to finish the regular season unbeaten but would eventually lose in the Super Bowl.
Out of the 33 years of being a head coach in the NFL, Shula only had two losing seasons.
He finished his career as a four-time NFL Coach of the Year and holds the record for most wins ever by a head coach with 328. Bill Belichick has the active record with 273 wins as an NFL head coach.