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Scott Mitchell Thanks Legendary Don Shula For Helping Him Live NFL Dream

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 21: Miami Dolphins greats (L to R) Dan Marino Don Shula and Larry Csonka are shown on the field before the Dolphins met the Minnesota Vikings in a game at Sun Life Stadium on December 21, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Upon hearing the news of the passing of legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula this morning, I couldn’t help but remember the first time I walked into coach Shula’s office shortly after I was drafted by the Dolphins in 1990 – I was star-struck and in complete awe.

There where photos of some of the most legendary players in NFL history on the walls, along with game balls from career milestone wins and Lombardi replicas of super bowl wins. His office was a shrine of how great coach Shula was and it was truly a sight to behold.

I was so taken back by the sight of it all I said, out loud, “I can believe I’m in Don Shula’s office!”

He kind of laughed and said, “What do you mean?”

I said, “I’m just a kid from a small town in Utah and I’m in your office.”

I can’t put into words what it meant to me at the time and still does today, that Don Shula and the Miami Dolphins thought enough of me that they drafted me into the NFL. I have been so grateful that because of them I was able to live my childhood dream of being and NFL player.

Playing For Don Shula

Every day for four years I had the distinct privilege of sitting between Don Shula and Dan Marino in every meeting. The insight I gained and the life lessons I learned are some of the most cherished memories of my time in the NFL.

I hated Coach Shula and loved him in the same moment. He was tough and demanded excellence all of the time. Yet, it was a demand to execute not some elaborate scheme, but to execute the fundamentals of your craft to perfection.

I’ve often described coach Shula as a coach that always told you what you needed to hear and not what you wanted to hear. He was not there to be your friend but to get the very best out of you. Outside of football, he was kind and quite funny but on the field, he had a look and a voice that got your attention.

He demanded your respect and he got it.

He made me a better player, he prepared me to have success in the NFL, but more importantly, he taught me more about being a better person.

My life is better because I was coached by the greatest coach of all time. It was truly an honor and a privilege, coach.

You can find Scott Mitchell talking NFL on his podcast, Helmets Off. You can also find him nightly on KSL Newsradio for KSL Unrivaled.