Miami Dolphins history: George Wilson and Don Shula connection

Throughout the rest of the 2020 off-season, we will be looking back at Miami Dolphins’ history and today we start at the beginning with George Wilson.

Many Miami Dolphins history fan buffs know that George Wilson was the first Miami Dolphins head coach in franchise history, fewer know his past prior to joining the team when the NFL granted Miami and Joe Robbie an expansion franchise.

There is a lot more to George Wilson, Sr. and Don Shula than you may realize, in fact, it is much deeper than just Shula replacing Wilson as the Dolphins head coach.

In 1947, Wilson began his coaching career with the Chicago Bears under George Halas. He would leave for Detroit a couple of years later. He would become the Lions head coach in 1957 and that same year would lead the Lions to the NFL Championship. In 1960, things got a lot different.

Wilson hired Don Shula to be his defensive coordinator with the Lions. In the three seasons that Shula coached with Wilson, the defense was one of the best in the league and they made the post-season.

In 1963, Weeb Ewbank was fired by the Colts. Don Shula had played for the Colts under Ewbank and owner Carroll Rosenbloom was familiar with Shula and hired him as their new head coach. Shula was 33 years old. Wilson would last one more season in Detroit and then would join the Redskins for a season.

In 1966, Joe Robbie hired Wilson to be his head coach. Wilson would trade a 13th round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback George Wilson, Jr. who would back up starter Dick Wood. Many believe that Shula is the coach that drafted Bob Griese but that wasn’t the case. Griese was drafted by Wilson. We will look at some of the top Miami Dolphins in history who were not drafted by Don Shula later today.

In 1970, Robbie relieved Wilson of his job and hired Don Shula. The hiring of Shula was not held in high regard by the league because Shula was still under contract with the Colts. The Dolphins needed to give the Colts a first-round draft pick as compensation.

While Shula replaced the man who gave his first NFL coaching job, there was a lot of bad blood at the time from Wilson who felt he got a raw deal. More on that as well, later today.

Wilson may have failed in Miami but in Detroit, all these decades later, he still remains the second most winningest coach in Detroit history behind only Wayne Fontes who won 13 more games than Wilson did. He also remains one of only three coaches in Lions history to have won more than 100 games.

Come back again at 2:00 this afternoon for a glimpse at what Wilson actually did for the Dolphins compared to what you think you know about Don Shula.