By: Jason Sarney
While things in life are rarely “Perfect,” one man arguably could claim to have been. The Miami Dolphins honored legendary coach, Don Shula, the ceremony on Saturday The event was extremely well done by all parties involved, and included many surprise guests including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who spoke, as well as Pro Football Hall of Fame President, David Baker. This was nearly the "perfect" start to a "perfect" weekend.
Shula, the architect of all things Miami Dolphins, created so much within the organization, the NFL, the Miami sports scene, as well as an arena this franchise has "perfected" following his lead, philanthropy and charity in community. While this piece is not a “game” or “football” oriented one, per say, it is a recognition of greatness, both on and off the field, in the past and in the hopeful future.
Focusing on the winning aspect of the weekend, personally, there was a first for me and a goal reached that only could have been accomplished with the help and support I have been fortunate to receive from several people, especially Jason Jenkins, who gave PhinManiacs the opportunity to be credentialed for the Miami Dolphins Press Box.
For yours truly, it had been a goal since the time Don Shula roamed the sidelines, and ironically, at 40 years old, a dream was reached, the same age Coach started his run with the Dolphins. As a New Yorker, I have moments in the 1990’s, not seasons of live viewing. This because of it being pre-DirecTV and pre-internet, games in my living room were scarce. A cut-in to a 1993 Eagles game, where Coach became the NFL’s alll-time winningest coach, was a moment I was lucky enough to view live, as it happened, still wearing my shin guards from my earlier afternoon soccer game.
My life, childhood, and the Peter-Pan version of my adulthood, has been cloaked in aqua and orange and while the last few decades have hurt, the pride will never leave me. The reasons are beyond wins and losses.
As Owner Stephen Ross said, “Don Shula is the Miami Dolphins.”
Not only a surrogate father to his players, but a role-model to individuals looking to be their best selves, because that is what Shula demanded, and brought out in people. His was a life led by example, and hearing even broadcasting legend Jim Gray talk about his “Dear Friend,” coach Don Shula, the gravity of his importance on the world truly hit me.
Shula embodies everything the Miami Dolphins mean to me today, as well as so many fans. The charity works with local community programs like Football Unites, as well as the Dolphins phenomenal efforts in the world of cancer research. The DCC, The Dolphins Challenge Cancer, has its roots in the Don Shula Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.
Without Coach Shula, millions of dollars would not have been raised. This tradition is still continued in Miami, and the Dolphins are one of the best in sports in these efforts and endeavors. Just listen to Nat Moore...
In terms of on field, it’s time to channel the ways of Don Shula, and his teams of the 1970’s and 1980’s. A passion and dedication for excellence, on and off the field. To me, that is Don Shula, and thanks to him, the Miami Dolphins are an organization to be proud to support, through thick and thin.
While frustrating, lets us all remember what Dolphin great Larry Csonka said to the Saturday crowd to a massive ovation…”When Don Shula came to the Dolphins, we were the worst team in football...Four years later, we were the best team in history.”