Griese, Bob

views updated May 08 2018

Bob Griese


American football player

Hall of fame quarterback Bob Griese, six-feet-one-inch and 190 pounds, did not possess exceptional speed or a necessarily spectacular throwing arm, but his ability to read defenses, deliver passes with pin-point precision, and lead his team methodically down the field is legendary. Often referred to as a field general, Griese thrived as the quarterback of the Miami Dolphins during the 1970s under the direction of hall of fame coach Don Shula . Griese appeared in three consecutive Super Bowls, winning two (1973-1974).

Baseball or Football?

Bob Griese was born on February 3, 1945 in Evansville, Indiana, where he grew up with two siblings and his parents, Sylverious, a plumber, and Ida (Ulrich), a secretary. Griese was involved in sports from a young age, competing regularly with his older brother Bill. When Griese was ten his father died, and the traumatic event seemed to solidify the boy's already quiet, serious personality. He played basketball and baseball as a youth. He did not play organized football until he was a freshman at Rex Mundi High School. During his last two years in school he was named as the best quarterback in Indiana. He also excelled as a baseball pitcher, posting a 17-1 record, with his only loss coming in the 1963 American Legion World Series.

Not heavily recruited out of high school, Griese, who wanted to get his education, passed up an offer from the Baltimore Orioles to sign him as a pitcher to attend nearby Purdue University. Under the tutelage of the Boilermakers' coach Bob DeMoss, Griese developed his fundamental skills as a passer. DeMoss corrected Griese's three-quarter side-armed throw (the same form he used to pitch baseballs) and got the young quarterback throwing straight overhand from behind the ear, giving him a quicker and straighter release. He earned the starting position as a sophomore, and by 1965, his junior year, he was becoming nationally recognized for his passing accuracy and his intelligent play. In that year he led his team to an upset victory over top-ranked University of Notre Dame, 25-21. On the day, Griese completed nineteen of twenty-two passes, with a streak of thirteen in a row.

Named a consensus All-American during his final two years, Griese's tenure at Purdue ended by winning the Rose Bowl, 15-14, over the University of Southern California. During his career as a Boilermaker, Griese completed 348 passes on 609 attempts. He was second in the bid for the 1966 Heisman Trophy, won by Steve Spurrier. Having also lettered in basketball, he graduated in 1967 with a degree in industrial management. On June 10, 1967, he married Judi Lassus, who would become a registered nurse. The couple had three sons.

Difficult Start in Miami

Griese was drafted in the first round by the Miami Dolphins, then a struggling team in the now-defunct American Football League (AFL). As expected, Griese suited up for his first pro game to stand on the sidelines and watch his teammates compete against the Denver Broncos. However, when starting quarterback John Stofa broke his ankle in the first quarter of play, Griese was called in. The rookie stepped up to the challenge, connecting on twelve of nineteen passing attempts, and the Dolphins won the game. After that day, Griese never relinquished his spot as the team's starting quarterback.

Griese's first few years were a struggle. The Dolphins won only four games during his rookie season, five games in 1968, and just three in 1969. With little protection from a porous front line, Griese was often required to scramble away from defensive onslaughts, but he still managed to post consistently impressive numbers. In his sophomore season, he threw twenty-one touchdown passes and only sixteen interceptions. He was invited to play in the AFC All-Star Game two years.

Shula and Griese: A Perfect Combination

In 1970 the Dolphins joined the National Football League (NFL) and hired future hall-of-famer Don Shula to coach the team. Shula used his first year to rebuild the team and teach his offensive system that focused on consistent, short-yardage gains. During the 1970 season Griese had an impressive completion rate of fifty-eight percent, but his twelve touchdown passes stood against seventeen interceptions. By 1971 Griese and the Dolphins had hit their stride, making it all the way to Super Bowl VI, before being defeated by the Dallas Cowboys, 24-3. For his performance on the field Griese was named as an All-Pro Player and The Sporting News American Football Conference (AFC) Player of the Year. He made his second trip to the Pro Bowl.


1945Born February 3 in Evansville, Indiana
1963Enrolls at Purdue University on a football scholarship
1964Wins starting quarterback position as a sophomore
1967Graduates with a degree in industrial management; drafted by the Miami Dolphins; marries Judi Lassus
1970Don Shula becomes Dolphins' coach
1971-73Leads Dolphins to three straight Super Bowls, winning in 1972 and 1973
1982-86Football sportscaster for NBC Sports
1986Begins as college football analyst for ABC Sports
1988Wife, Judi, dies from breast cancer
1994Marries Shay Whitney
1997Provides color commentary for first University of Michigan game in which his son, Brian, is the quarterback

Although he was hampered by injury during the 1972 season, sitting out all but six regular season games, the Dolphins rolled on undefeated. Griese returned for the playoffs, taking his team to Super Bowl VII, where they triumphed over the Washington Redskins. The 1972 Dolphins became the only NFL team to post a 17-game win streak in a single season. During the 1973 season Griese threw for seventeen touchdowns and only eight interceptions, and the Dolphins won once again won the Super Bowl, beating the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7.

In 1976 problems with double vision and dizziness caused by 20-200 vision in his right eye forced Griese to wear glasses, which did little to slow the quarterback down. In fact he was awarded the Maxwell Club's Bert Bell Memorial Trophy as NFL Player of the Year in 1977, a season he threw a career-high twenty-two touchdown passes. Following the 1980 season Griese, suffering from a painful and nagging shoulder injury, announced his retirement. During his fourteen years as a Miami Dolphin, he completed 1,926 of 3,429 passes for 25,092 yards. To his 192 passing touchdowns, he added seven more rushing touchdowns.

Griese was a perfect match for Shula's ball control offense, in which grinding away yards on the ground emphasized over a flashy passing game. Because Griese bought into his coach's system, he was just as happy to hand the ball off to his running backs as he was to throw it. It was a match made in heaven. A match made in heaven for the fans of the Miami Dolphins, as well.

Following his retirement, Griese worked as a sports analyst for NBC's coverage of the NFL from 1982 to 1986. In 1986 ABC invited Griese to join sportscaster Keith Jackson to cover college football. Since then Griese has developed a reputation as a skilled, thoughtful commentator. He has covered more than twenty seasons of college football and numerous college bowl and NFL games.

Griese's wife died in 1988 from breast cancer, leaving Griese at home with his youngest son, Brian, then 13-years-old. The two developed a special bond, and when Brian became a quarterback at the University of Michigan, Griese covered several of his son's games. Brian has since followed his father into professional football as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos. Griese remarried in 1994 to Shay Whitney; they reside in Jupiter, Florida.


Address: ABC Sports, 47 W. 56th Street, New York, New York 10023.

Career Statistics

Miami: Miami Dolphins.

Awards and Accomplishments

1961-62Twice named the best high school quarterback in Indiana
1965-66Twice named consensus All-American
1966Runner-up for the Heisman Trophy
1970-71, 1973-74, 1977-78Played in Pro Bowl
1971Named Sporting News American Football Conference Player of the Year; selected as an All-Pro.
1973Won Super Bowl VII
1974Won Super Bowl VIII
1977Named National Football League (NFL) Player of the Year; selected to the All-Pro team; led the NFL with 22 touchdown passes
1979Inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame
1985Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
1990Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame


(With Jim Denney) Undefeated: How Father and Son Triumphed Over Unbelievable Odds Both On and Off the Field, T. Nelson Publishers, 2000.



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Perkins, Steve, and Bill Braucher. Miami Dolphins: Winning Them All. New York: Grosset and Dunlap Publishers, 1973.


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"Dolphins Hall of Famers: Bob Griese." Miami Dolphins. (December 30, 2002)

Sketch by Kari Bethel

Shula, Don

views updated May 08 2018

Don Shula


American football coach

The winningest coach in professional football, Don Shula compiled an unparalleled record of 347-173-6 over thirty-three seasons coaching in the National Football League (NFL). On November 14, 1993, as coach of the Miami Dolphins, Shula broke the record of 324 wins set by the legendary George Halas . Shula went on to extend

his record of wins to 347 before stepping down as coach of the Dolphins at the end of the 1995 football season. Shula began his coaching career in 1963 when, at the age of thirty-three, he took over the reins of the Baltimore Colts to become the youngest head coach in the NFL. Throughout his career, Shula led six teams to the Super Bowl, winning twice. In what was the high point of his coaching career, Shula in 1972 coached the Dolphins to a perfect record of 17-0, the only NFL team to go undefeated for an entire season.

Born in Grand River, Ohio

He was born Donald Francis Shula in Grand River, Ohio, on January 4, 1930. The son of Dan and Mary (Miller) Shula, he began playing football while still quite young and at the tender age of eleven was forbidden by his parents to play the game anymore after sustaining a bad facial cut during a neighborhood scrimmage. But Shula was not to be so easily dissuaded. In 1942 he forged his parents' signatures on a permission slip so that he could play football at school but was sidelined by a case of pneumonia just before the season began. Encouraged by an assistant coach to return to the game as soon as possible, a healthy Shula later rejoined the team but kept his football participation a secret from his parents until he was named a starter. As a senior at Thomas W. Harvey High School, Shula was named All-Ohio quarterback in 1946. He went on to become a star player at John Carroll University in Cleveland, gaining 125 yards in a 21-15 upset over Syracuse University. Recruited by a number of professional teams, Shula eventually signed with the Cleveland Browns for whom he played defense for the next couple of years before being traded in 1953 to the Baltimore Colts.

Shula spent three seasons with the Colts before being traded in 1956 to the Washington Redskins. His professional playing career ended in 1957. The following year he married Dorothy Bartish and joined the University of Virginia's football coaching staff as assistant coach. In 1959 he joined the coaching staff at the University of Kentucky and two years later broke into the professional coaching ranks when he signed on as defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions. Shula spent two years with the Lions and in 1963 became the youngest head coach in NFL history when he agreed to lead the Baltimore Colts. Only thirty-three at the time, Shula wasted little time in making his mark with the Colts. In his second season at the helm of the Colts, he led the team to a 12-2 record and earned for himself the first of six Coach of the Year awards.

Coaches Colts to Super Bowl III

In their third and fourth seasons under Shula's direction, the Colts compiled still-impressive records of 10-3-1 and 9-5, respectively. In 1967 the Colts barreled back with a record of 11-1-2 but again failed to make it to the Super Bowl. Shula's dream of coaching a team into the Super Bowl came true in 1968. On the strength of an extraordinary 13-1 record in the regular season, the Colts faced off against the New York Jets in Super Bowl III but were handed an upset by the New Yorkers. In his final season with the Colts, Shula coached the Baltimore team to a winningbut disappointingrecord of 8-5-1 in 1969. Looking for a new challenge, Shula turned his attention southward. In 1970 he signed on as new head coach of the Miami Dolphins, which had ended its 1969 season with a dismal record of 3-10-1.


1930Born January 4 in Grand River, Ohio
1951Earns bachelor's degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland
1951-53Plays defense for Cleveland Browns
1953-56Plays for Baltimore Colts
1956-57Plays for Washington Redskins
1958Named assistant football coach at the University of Virginia
1958Marries Dorothy Bartish on July 19
1959Joins coaching staff at University of Kentucky
1961Becomes defensive coordinator for Detroit Lions
1963Named head coach of Baltimore Colts
1970Becomes head coach of Miami Dolphins
1990Loses wife to cancer
1993Marries Mary Anne Stephens on October 15
1996Steps down as coach of Miami Dolphins

Shula quickly turned things around in Miami, coaching the Dolphins to winning records of 10-4 and 10-3-1 his first two seasons with the team. The Dolphins capped off their 1971 season with a visit to the Super Bowl, where they lost, 24-3, to the Dallas Cowboys. In 1972 Shula's Dolphins turned in a perfect 14-0 regular season (with another three wins in the playoffs), an achievement that has never been duplicated in NFL history. Miami then went on to win its first Super Bowl, defeating the Redskins, 14-7. After compiling a record of 12-2 in the regular 1973 season, the Dolphins powered their way back to the Super Bowl where they crushed the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7. Shula's greatest glory as a coach came during the early 1970s as he coached the Dolphins through sixty-two consecutive games without a single back-to-back loss, earning a record of 53-9 for the period.

Dolphins Win 1974 AFC Eastern Title

The Dolphins enjoyed another winning season in 1974, winning the American Football Conference's (AFC) Eastern Division title with a record of 11-3. However, the Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs after being narrowly defeated, 28-26, by the Oakland Raiders. Miami ended 1975 with a 10-4 record in the regular season but were edged out of the AFC Eastern title by the Baltimore Colts. The following year was not a good one for Shula and the Dolphins, which suffered their first losing season (6-8) since Shula's arrival. Miami bounced back in 1977 to finish the regular season with a record of 10-4, finishing second in the AFC Eastern Division.

In 1978 Shula coached the Dolphins to a winning record of 11-5. Miami made it into the AFC wildcard game in the playoffs, where the team lost 17-9 to the Houston Oilers. The Dolphins' 10-6 record in 1979 won the AFC Eastern Division title, but Miami fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-14, in the divisional playoffs. The following year the Dolphins broke even with a record of 8-8, placing third in the AFC Eastern Division. Things looked up in 1981 when the Dolphins again took the AFC Eastern title with a record of 11-4-1. In the divisional playoffs, Miami was narrowly defeated, 41-38, by the San Diego Chargers in overtime. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Dolphins captured the AFC Eastern title with a record of 7-2. Miami went on to win the AFC championship with a 14-0 defeat of the New York Jets. In the Super Bowl, the Dolphins were over-powered, 27-17, by the Redskins.

Dolphins Return to Super Bowl in 1984

Shula's Dolphins capped off the 1984 season with a return visit to the Super Bowl, where they lost, 38-16, to the San Francisco 49ers. For the next eleven seasons, under Shula's direction, the Dolphins enjoyed breakeven or winning seasons every year except 1988 when they finished with a record of 6-10. Finally in 1996, Shula at the age of sixty-six retired from professional football, leaving behind the winningest record in NFL coaching history. Only two years later, in his first year of eligibility, Shula was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At the induction ceremonies, Shula was formally presented by sons David and Michael, both of whom have spent time as coaches in the NFL.

Shula's first wife, Dorothy, died of cancer in 1990, and in 1993, he married Mary Anne Stephens. The two live in the Miami area, where Shula concentrates most of his time today on running Shula Enterprises, a holding company for his restaurant chain. Looking back on his pro coaching career, Shula told the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies: "It's a wonderful tribute to be here, and I'm very proud of it. There have been so many memories, so many wonderful people I've been privileged to work with. I'm grateful I've had the opportunity to achieve the things I set out to do."


Address: Don Shula, c/o Shula Enterprises Inc., 16 Indian Creek Island, Miami Beach, FL 33154-2904. Online:

Awards and Accomplishments

1964, 1967-68, 1970-72Named NFL Coach of the Year
1968Coaches Baltimore Colts to Super Bowl III
1972Leads Miami Dolphins to perfect season
1973Coaches Dolphins to Super Bowl victory
1974Coaches Dolphins to Super Bowl victory
1980Named NFL Coach of the Decade for 1970s
1991Earns 300th career victory with Dolphins' defeat of Green Bay Packers on September 22
1993Receives NFL's Lifetime Achievement Award
1997Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

Related Biography: Football Coach David Shula

David Shula has followed in his father's footsteps, spending a decade and a half coaching in the National Football League before joining his father in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the family-owned restaurant chain.

He was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on May 28, 1959, the first child of Shula and his first wife, Dorothy, who died of cancer in 1990. After earning his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in 1981, he spent a year playing for the Baltimore Colts. After his year with the Colts, he turned to coaching, joining the staff of the Miami Dolphins as assistant coach from 1982 until 1989. From Miami, Shula moved to Dallas, where he served as the Cowboys' assistant coach from 1989 until 1991. He was named assistant coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1991 and soon thereafter was promoted to head coach, a post he retained until 1996. That year, he left coaching and returned to Miami to serve as president of Shula Enterprises, holding company for the family's chain of steak restaurants. He and wife Leslie Ann have three children, Dan, Chris, and Matt.


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Sketch by Don Amerman

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