WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - Don Shula, the NFL's all-time winningest coach, was in town Monday to open a brand new restaurant inside the brand new Embassy Suites.
Shula's 347 Grill is now open for business, and hopes sports fans and non-sports fans alike come by to enjoy the food and atmosphere.
"We're excited about it," Shula said. "We think we have a great location here, and we just want people to come in and try us out. If they like it, they can come back and tell their friends about it."
The restaurant is named after his 347 NFL victories, more than any coach in league history. Shula won two Super Bowls with the Miami Dolphins, but of all the great accomplishments in his Hall of Fame career, he gets asked most about the 1972 perfect season, the only time that has ever been done.
"It really is," Shula said. "We just had our 40th anniversary of that team, and everybody that could come back, came back. They told a lot of lies about me. We had a good time kidding each other and reliving those great moments. Nobody had done it before we did it, 40 of 50 years, and nobody has done it since."
The New England Patriots came close to matching perfection in 2007, but lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
"We get accused of being a bunch of angry old guys waiting around for that last team to lose," Shula said. "But, that's really not the case. If somebody ever does do it, I'm going to call that coach and congratulate him."
Shula will always be known as a coach who could adapt his coaching philosophy to the talent he had around him. He won Super Bowl VII by throwing a grand total of seven passes. Then, when Dan Marino came around, Shula turned his offense into a historically successful passing machine.
"That's what coaching is all about," Shula said. "You have to analyze your talent, then do the right things to get the most out of your talent. To me, you have to judge Dan by what he was, and Dan was the best pure passer that's ever played the game. That lightning quick release, his accuracy and his confidence, to me he was the best. He didn't win the Super Bowl, but you have to look at this career, and he had a great career."
Shula was a head coach for 33 years in the NFL, and with the coaching turnover in today's NFL, it is doubtful his records will ever be broken.
"People ask me how I stayed in coaching so long," Shula said. "I always say you have to win early and often. I had two losing seasons, but aside from that, they were all on the plus side. But once you get it going, establish a system and if the players believe in you, you can have success.
"I just like the way that we won. I think we won with a lot of class, and we did it with a way we're very proud of our accomplishments."
Shula, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997, still tries to attend every Dolphins home game, and he can't help but see the action through the eyes of a head coach.
"I think I do second guess coaches a little bit," Shula said. "But my wife, Mary Anne, gets me straightened out. She says, 'Now don't be coaching. You're retired.'"
Shula was so involved in the game he loved so much, he had very little time to pay attention to pop culture. He tells a funny story about how in the 80's during the height of the television show Miami Vice, the star, Don Johnson, wanted to meet Shula.
"So they said to me, 'Coach, this is Don Johnson from Miami Vice.' I told him, 'You guys are doing a great job cleaning up Miami. Keep up the good work. If there's anything we can do, let me know.' I didn't know who he was, I was just so consumed with football."
Having spent most of his legendary coaching career in Miami, Shula became friends with University of Miami head coach Dennis Erickson, who won two national championships with the Hurricanes in 1989 and 1991. Shula believes Erickson, who was just hired as the University of Utah's co-offensive coordinator, will have a positive effect on the Utes.
"I think he's going to do well," Shula said. "He was an excellent coach at the University of Miami, and they did a lot of good things down there. I'm sure he hasn't forgotten any of those things. I think Utah made a wise move."
Shula plans on coming back to Utah to visit his restaurant sometime in the future, but don't expect to see the 83-year old coach on the ski slopes.
"I tried to ski, but I was just too tense. I fought the hills, and the hills won."
He didn't lose too many other times in his life.
Shula's 347 Grill his his 36th restaurant and is the only one in Utah. It is located at 3524 South Market Street in West Valley City.