The jaw has been bronzed forever.
Donald Francis Shula and his jaw, long a symbol of the chiseled approach to his career that produced a record 347 victories, became a part of NFL history Saturday when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, just 50 miles southwest of Grand River, where he was born.``The jaw is prominently featured in the bust,'' Shula said, ``and that's the way it should be. When you get away from all the numbers, the jaw is the one thing people associate with me. I really like the bust.''
The bust, sculpted by Blair Buswell of Provo, Utah, was as much a hit with Shula as he was with the overflow crowd gathered outside the Hall of Fame.
Wellington Mara, the president and co-chief executive officer of the Giants; Mike Webster, the 17-year center of the Steelers and Chiefs; and Mike Haynes,the 14-year cornerback of the Patriots and Raiders, were also inducted.
``He has been described, in part, because of his jutting jaw as the NFL's national monument,'' said Shula's son, Michael, a co-presenter with his brother, David, a first in Hall of Fame history.
Shula is talked about in ``monumental'' terms because of his accomplishments during his 33-year career, averaging 10.5 wins, with a win percentage of .665. He had the only unbeaten team in professional history - the 17-0 Dolphins of 1972 - went to a record six Super Bowls and won two.
Despite those accomplishments, there are those who suggest that Shula isn't the game's greatest coach.
``He's the all-time winningest coach and the second-greatest coach in NFL history,'' Webster said, ``and the greatest thing about it is he gave us the greatest coach in NFL history.'' Webster meant former Shula assistant, Chuck Noll, who won four Super Bowls with Pittsburgh.
Shula's reply to the question: ``How do you judge? I thought that's why they kept stats, batting averages and winning percentages.''
His friends rely on the numbers but don't dismiss Shula's 2-4 Super Bowl record. ``Nobody would like to have won more Super Bowls,'' said Dolphins' owner H. Wayne Huizenga, ``but the other numbers that he compiled far outshadow that one. His record speaks for itself.''
Bill Arnsparger, his defensive coordinator with the Dolphins in the 1970s, said Shula's early success put him in a spot few coaches are good enough to face.
``He was competing against himself,'' Arnsparger said. ``It happened to George [Seifert) of the 49ers most recently, but it doesn't happen often. Unless you win the Super Bowl every season, you don't meet the demands of the organization or the fans.''
As Haynes pointed out, ``the better I got, the higher the standard moved,'' and it was no different for Shula. He was expected to be the best every year.
Any time there is an induction such as Shula, the question surfaces as to how anyone could build such a record so far beyond anyone else with longevity and consistency unlikely to be matched in the NFL.
``The climate would be tough,'' Shula said. ``There were 11 coaching changes this year. If that continues to happen, there's nobody who is going to hang around as long as I did. You have to win early and often to establish enough of a reputation to stick around until you have one losing season.''
Shula's induction was a clinic in how his record was built. Preparation just like he used in a game plan. David covered the career and commitment. Michael covered Shula's personal life, and Shula took the record and the route. Nothing flashy, revealing or emotional, the same approach that won 347 games.
``It did sound that way,'' Shula's wife, Mary Anne said, ``but I know they didn't talk about this. David and Michael talked, but Don just asked them to do it.''
David talked about his father's resiliency from losses to the Browns (27-0 in the 1964 NFL championship game); 16-7 to the Jets in Super Bowl III; and 24-3 to the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI and how he rebounded.
Then Michael spoke of the tender side, ``but you have to dig a little to find it.'' He included both wives, eight children and eight grandchildren.
Together, David and Michael said, ``Larry Csonka said it best for all of us. Some days we love to love him. Some days we love to hate him, but we always, always love him.''
Shula said how it was only ``50 miles from Grand River to Canton, and it took me 67 years to travel to that distance.''
He told of how he turned a teaching job at Canton-Lincoln High School for $3,750 to reach ``for the moon.''
He proceeded through his coaching years, the 32-2 record of 1972 and 1973, including wins in Super Bowls VII and VIII as the primary highlight; the 1968 loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III, 16-7, as his major disappointment.
He included everyone from grade school and high school coaches to NFL assistants who had helped him. He talked about his first wife, Dorothy, who died of breast cancer in 1991 and how she supported him just like Mary Anne.
``You know it's only 50 miles, but I've relished every moment of the longer route,'' Shula said. And that's the reason he was inducted, jaw and all. Shula was excited because he thinks he is where his record put him.
``I've never seem him happier or more relaxed,'' said his brother, Jim. ``He's known where he wanted to go for a long time and now he's there.''