Bill Belichick continues to march toward Don Shula’s record for wins as an NFL head coach. If and when he surpasses the mark, there will be some disgruntled folks in South Florida.
Hal Habib of The Palm Beach Post argued in a column published this week that Belichick never will be in the same class as Shula in terms of legacy and integrity, for the New England Patriots have been the subject of several controversies under Belichick (Spygate, Deflategate, etc.), whereas the Miami Dolphins never were known to stoop to such levels with Shula at the helm.
Here’s what Habib wrote:
Winning is the only thing, we’ve been conditioned to believe, which would mean that to couple 348 wins by Belichick with his six Super Bowl rings is to squelch any argument in favor of Shula being the best ever.
But argue, I must. Argue, I will.
Argue, I do, in the name of integrity. Honesty. Valor. Class.
Habib’s piece on Shula certainly paints Belichick in a negative light. But it also includes quotes from several former Dolphins players, including two-time Super Bowl champion Manny Fernandez, who called out Belichick’s reputation when comparing him to his former coach.
“You can’t stop it,” Fernandez, who played eight seasons with Miami from 1968 to 1975, told Habib. “I just think it’s a shame that a guy who constantly gets caught cheating is even there because — I don’t know — (Belichick’s) moral character leaves me kind of questioning.”
Shula, who served as the Dolphins’ coach during Miami’s undefeated 1972 season, finished his career with 347 wins between the regular season and playoffs. Belichick enters Sunday’s matchup between New England and Miami with 304, most of which have come with the Patriots.
Based on New England’s recent success, it seems like only a matter of time before Belichick, a six-time Super Bowl champion, moves past Shula on the all-time list. There always are going to be haters, though, for Belichick and the Pats have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way over the past two decades.