TAMPA ― Tony Dungy never played or worked under Don Shula, but the NFL’s all-time winningest coach had a big impact on him.
When Dungy got his first head-coaching job with the Bucs in 1996, his offensive coordinator was Shula’s son, Mike.
The two worked together through the ’199 season, which ended with a loss to the St. Louis Rams in the NFC Championship Game.
Don Shula, who died Monday at age 90, was very supportive of Dungy in his early days as a head coach.
"Sad time, but he did so much for the game,'' Dungy said in a text to the Tampa Bay Times. “He talked to me a few times during my first couple of years and was always very supportive.”
Much of what Dungy did as a coach was influenced by Shula, as well.
Dungy played and coached under Chuck Noll, the four-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the Steelers. Noll was Shula’s defensive coordinator with the Baltimore Colts.
“(Shula’s) impact on the game can’t be overstated,” said Dungy, who won one Super Bowl as a player with the Steelers and another as coach of the Colts. "So many people were impacted ― including me.
"I never worked under him, but a lot of Coach Noll’s philosophy and way of doing things was shaped by him. So I was somewhat like a third-generation coach of his.''
Here is what some other notable figures are saying about Shula: