Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Steak with the Shulas

The Shulas just opened a new Shula's 347 Grill in Providence, R.I. and had a little media dinner last night (the "official" grand opening is tonight). I'm writing a story about the place for The Boston Herald (it will be in tomorrow's food section) and got a chance to have dinner with Don Shula and his son, David.

The food's great and the Herald will have that angle. But, of course, I was very excited to talk to the Shulas about football. Don was just a real cool, down-to-earth dude. We talked about Paul Brown (the subject of a major CHFF piece last month) and Shula's days coaching with Blanton Collier, the highly successful Brown coaching disciple.

"The guy who had the biggest influence on my career was Blanton Collier," said Shula.

Of course, as CHFF readers know (but few others), Collier is one of the most succesful coaches ever, despite his low name recognition. He has the fourth best winning percentage in NFL history -- one spot ahead of Shula on the all-time list. It was Collier who hired Shula as an assistant when he was coaching at the University of Kentucky.

But it all stemmed from the legendary Paul Bown, said Shula. "When I played (college football) at John Carroll, we had the Paul Brown playbook," he said. "That was the basis for my coaching career."

For the record, Shula is almost exactly 40 years older than me, but I'm fairly certain he could kick my ass. Real good shape for a guy his age. His wife is smoking, too. In fact, she could probably kick my ass.

I sat next to David Shula during the dinner and basically chatted about football and occasionally about food. David played football at Dartmouth and spent a year playing for the Colts before entering the coaching ranks. He didn't have quite the same success as his dad, winning just 19 of 71 games in four-and-a-half years heading the Bengals in the mid-1990s.

He was just 32 when he took over the Bengals in 1992. Today, he's 47 and runs the family's fairly lucrative restaurant business. The Providence location is the 26th restaurant in their chain.

Don was wearing one of his Super Bowl rings and when I asked which one it was, he said, "which one do you think?" - Yup, the undefeated 1972 season SB ring.

1 comment:

dplunk said...

Coach Shula is THE man. If Shula told me to kill my first born son (if I had a son), I would do it and not ask questions.