With all these ridiculous polls going around about who is the most overrated NFL quarterback and coach this season, how about we take a look at the most overrated head coach of all-time. Of course, these polls are nothing more than opinions, but without making a case for them, they are meaningless. Being overrated does not mean one is not excellent at their chosen field, it simply indicates one is being fawned over for one reason or another.
This particular NFL head coach, who is often looked upon as a god like figure, won two championships and has the most career victories (328). He also coached for thirty-three seasons and failed to win a championship in his last twenty-two years while coaching for the same team. Do you know of any coach today who would hang around twenty-two years without a title? Well, Don Shula was able to pull it off.
Yeah, we all know about Shula’s historic undefeated season and two consecutive Super Bowl titles, but how about his underachievements? Obviously, Shula was able to rest on the laurels of his two Super Bowl titles and milk it for all it was worth.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only undefeated NFL team (regular season and playoffs) in the history of the league. The 2007 New England Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season, but were undone in Super Bowl XLII by a miraculous catch by New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree and some funky timekeeping during the Giants last drive in the final two minutes, when time magically stopped. Thanks to the Hands of God intervening, the Patriots did not get their undefeated season and the Shula legend lived on.
How about the 2009 Indianapolis Colts, who were 14-0, when first year coach Jim Caldwell decided to pull quarterback Peyton Manning in the third quarter against the New York Jets and proceeded to lose 29-15? Can anyone forget the sight of Manning on the sideline with his arms folded looking bewildered and downright pissed off? What’s the big deal anyway? The opportunity for an undefeated season only comes around once an eternity. Thanks to the Hands of God Part II, Shula could once again sleep easy knowing his accomplishment was safe and sound.
In Super Bowl III, Shula’s powerhouse Baltimore Colts were favored by 18 points over the less than formidable New York Jets. In what would go down as the biggest upset in Super Bowl history, Joe Namath would lead the Jets to a 16-7 victory. The game would have been closer if the Colts had not bothered to show up.
Shula managed to make it back to the Super Bowl in the strike shortened 1982 season. The AFC Championship game between the Jets and Dolphins was dubbed the Mud Bowl because the Orange Bowl field remained uncovered the night before during a torrential downpour. Due to the atrocious field conditions, Jets speedster wide outs Wesley Walker and Lam Jones were nullified, helping the Fins win 14-0. Hey, it was only the most important game in the AFC that season, so what’s the big deal of not having the field covered the night before? This move was not from the Hands of God, but from the Hands of Shula himself.
The following week in Super Bowl XVII, John Riggins rushed for 166 yards and this time it was the Washington Redskins who rained on Shula’s parade with a 27-17 victory. Thanks mainly to Riggo, the win gave another overrated individual, quarterback Joe Theismann, his only title.
There were no Hands of God involved when Shula made his final Super Bowl appearance after the 1984 season against the San Francisco 49ers. This time it was the arm of Joe Montana and the hands of Roger Craig and Dwight Clark which gave the Fins a good old fashioned 38-16 butt kicking.
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, Shula had the most prolific passer in the game, Dan Marino, and was unable to win a Super Bowl with him. Being part of the NFL’s competition committee, he also had the least penalized team year after year. All this in addition to being allowed by the NFL to cheat the Jets out of a fair game in the 1982 AFC Championship. And still, no Super Bowl victory for the Don.
No doubt, Shula was an excellent coach, especially if you omit his last twenty-two seasons. However, considering the blatant favoritism displayed towards him by the league, he was still unable to bring home the title after 1973, making him less than great and the most overrated coach of all time.