NFL announces first Don Shula Coach of the Year winner

Posted Feb. 04, 2011 @ 4:16 p.m.
Posted By Keith Schleiden

DALLAS — Ray Seals, the head coach and athletic director at Madison High School in Houston, was announced as the winner of the first Don Shula NFL Coach of the Year Award at presentation held in the Super Bowl XLV media center on Friday.

Seals was nominated by the Texans, and was one of 28 coaches from around the nation to be named as candidates for the award by NFL teams and USA Football. The new award "was created to honor exemplary football coaches at all levels of the sport," according to a press release from the NFL. Nominated men included coaches from the NFL, college, high school and youth ranks.

The Texans noted in their nomination application that Seals is known for his "leadership, character, and ability to mentor his players on the field and in life." The team pointed out that Seals is known to visit the homes of his players and in some cases ensure that the families can put food on the table.

Shula was on hand to make the announcement, and he began his remarks by making a joke about the icy weather that has blanketed North Texas during Super Bowl week, including the surprising Thursday-night snowfall that dumped several inches of the white stuff on the area.

"There's a lot of hospitality around here," Shula said. "I'm from the Cleveland area, and it makes me feel like I'm in Cleveland when I go outside, with the wind and the snow and the ice."

Shula then went on to recall the principles that guided him during his coaching career, and explained why Seals, who has compiled a 212-96 record, deserves this honor.

"I am honored to be here to present this award in my name," Shula said. "Throughout my coaching career, my goal was always to teach the values of integrity and character, even when focused on winning each and every game. I remember vividly how important my coaches were at each and every level of the game. This goes back to grade school, to high school, to college, my years in the NFL. Coach Seals displays the leadership and the commitment to excellence all football coaches at every level strive for."

Seals said that he has always considered Shula a role model, and was literally speechless when he received a call from Shula telling him he had won the award.

"I couldn't say anything," Seals said. "I was speechless. My players would never believe I was speechless, but I was."

Seal went on to thank the NFL, the Blue Ribbon Panel that voted on the award and his players.

Seals was previously recognized by the NFL in 2008, when he was named the High School Coach of the Year. He was nominated by two of his former players — 49ers FB Moran Norris and Titans QB Vince Young.