January 21, 2004 by

Don Shinnick


Categories: Sports

To date, Don Shinnick holds the National Football League record for career interceptions by a linebacker. From 1958 to 1969, he snagged the ball from his opponents 37 times.

The Kansas City, Mo., native grew up in Los Angeles and was an All-American linebacker at UCLA before joining the Baltimore Colts in 1957 as a second-round draft pick. He was the first UCLA athlete to make it to the Super Bowl.

After leaving the field as a player, Shinnick returned as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bears, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Oakland Raiders, the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Valley College Monarchs. He retired from coaching at the end of the 1990 season and was inducted into the California Community College Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.

Shinnick died on Jan. 20 from degenerative brain disease. He was 68.

10 Responses to Don Shinnick

  1. Mark Robinson

    Don Shinnick was one of my Colt heros, on and off the field. He was more than an unsung hero of the defense, but a true role model more athelets should follow. His passing is a deep loss to me. I pray for his family’s comfort and peace at his passing.

  2. Johanna

    Don Shinnick came to the University of Missouri in 1986 to speak to students about motivation. I remember how captivating a speaker he was, and unafraid to talk about spirituality as being the core of reference for every challenge we face. I remember the way hundreds of students were so quiet, listening to him say, “Not everything that happens is good. But everything works together for good.” It’s a thought that has been a comfort and a source of power to me many times over the years. Today I was cleaning the basement and I found a box containing that day’s program in it. Although I had forgotten his name, I remembered the speech so frequently and was thrilled to be able to now find out who that football coach was that inspired me, a theatre major.

  3. Brad Pembroke

    I am crushed by the loss of a great man. I grew up with the Shinnick family while he was working as a linebacker coach for the Oakland Raiders. He was a local hero that had all his priorities in line. He was very involved in our local Church and ran the Fellowship of Christian athletes for the High school. He guided so many of us on to the Lord and had time for everyone. You would have never guessed he was a NFL star by talking to him (only by looking at him) I know he is missed but I know where he is. My heart goes out to his family for comfort and peace. He will be missed!!!

  4. craig shinnick

    although we have the same last name i never met mr don shinnick but its one of my deepest regrets from a man who loves the game of football witha passion he truly will be missed and is hall of fame and here in my book thank you

  5. Baltimorean

    I am just finding out that Don Shinnick died in 2004. I remember him very well, having grown up in Baltimore during the 1960s as a Colts fan. A very good linebacker whose last NFL coaching job was with his former teammate whom he led to Christ in 1960, the great receiver Raymond Berry.
    I am saddened to hear of his passing from frontal lobe dementia, the same malady that affects his Hall of Fame teammate, former tight end John Mackey. I wonder if this was a football-related disease, as is the case with Mackey and numerous other former NFL players such as Gene Hickerson-inducted into the Hall of Fame last year-Willie Wood and Larry Morris, to name a few.
    This very morning I was reading his inspirational biography, Always a Winner, which my mother purchased for me in 1969-he was released from the Colts at mid-season that year-from a Christian bookstore in Baltimore. I have always been impressed by his sincere and nonjudgemental Christian witness. He has left a spiritual legacy that lives on beyond his death. I realize another link to my childhood and youth has passed into memory, just like other great Colts of that era such as Johnny U. and Jim Parker.

  6. Wayne Cook

    I met Don as a visitor to the Hefley household in Arlington Heights, Illonis. Jim and Marti had been friends with him for awhile and when in town, he’d stop by on weekends to visit, eat and play pass catch with their girls and I. Gentle giant that he was, we always enjoyed his presence at the Sunday dinner table.

  7. Reverend Charles Taylor

    I too was a Colts fan from 1957 until the bitter end and Brother Don was one of my favorite players. I remember praying for a miracle late in the fourth quarter against Green Bay just before Don intercepted Bart Starr’s pass to preserve a 17 to 13 Colts win. Even though I was only a teenager at the time, it still remains a cherished memory for me. As a 68 year old preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ his Christian testimony is a true blessing and I look forward to meeting him in heaven. Because of his faithful witness Raymond Berry and many others will be there too. Amen. Reverend Charles Taylor Living Water Ministries Bassett Virginia (NAHUM 1:7 KJV)

  8. Carol

    I went to high school and graduated from San Pedro High with Don.
    He was well liked and respected as a person and a football hero.
    Whenever we have a reunion he is missed as others are who are no longer with us. I plan to look for his book Always a Winner at our local book store. I wasn’t even aware of it until now. Thank everyone for their kind comments.

  9. Wayne Hollenbaugh

    I am 62 and I was a Baltimore Colt fan. I never met Don Shinnich but along with Bill Glass, these are my two greatest hero’s. I read Don’s book, “Always a Winner” and cherished every memory. I remember back when I watched the games or listened to them on the radio (WBAL ?) that Don’s name was repetitive throughout. I would bet the barn that if there were records of tackles and assists that could also claim this catagory as an enduring standout. Besides being my hero from a spiritual perspective, he was a player of unheralded greatness.

  10. Jerry Doss

    I was batboy for American Legion baseball team in San Pedro in 1953 when Don was right fielder, he hit a lot of homeruns didn’t say much, nice guy. My daughter went to UCLA and met Josh in the 80,s and she told him about the baseball team that we were on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *