Shula: The Coach of the NFL’s Greatest Generation

Mark Ribowsky. Liveright, $28.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-63149-460-4
Biographer Ribowsky (The Last Cowboy; Howard Cosell) provides a hard-nosed and decidedly unromantic biography of the NFL’s winningest coach, Don Shula, who led the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins to a Super Bowl victory. Ribowsky begins with Shula’s Depression-era, Hungarian-immigrant upbringing in Grand River, Ohio, telling of how Shula worked odd jobs as a teenager during WWII while excelling in high school football. Through Shula’s career, Ribowsky provides an excellent look into the early, gritty days of professional football, explaining how Shula, playing for the Baltimore Colts in the mid-1950s, “would throw an elbow into a receiver’s eye as soon as look at him.” In 1957, Shula retired from playing; three years later, he became the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions; in 1963, he returned to the Colts as head coach; and, in 1970, he was hired to helm the Dolphins. Throughout, Ribowsky highlights Shula’s brand of tough, old-school coaching, along with a solid history of the birth of the AFL and the evolution of the NFL, with anecdotes ranging from raunchy dorm-room parties at camp (which Shula did not appreciate) to Shula’s “flawless” game plan in Super Bowl VII, in which the Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins. Ribowsky’s excellent biography will thrill football fans of all allegiances. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/06/2019
Release date: 08/27/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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