Art Shell: "The right person at the right time"

Updated: October 17, 2005, 4:27 PM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to

Oct. 3, 1989

Exactly 15 years to the day that Frank Robinson is hired, the Oakland Raiders promote Art Shell, the first African-American to be an NFL head coach since Fritz Pollard was a player-coach for the Hammond (Ind.) Pros in 1925.

"It is an historic event," Shell says. "I'm proud of it, but I'm also a Raider. I don't believe the color of my skin entered into this decision. I was chosen because [Raiders managing general partner] Al Davis felt I was the right person at the right time."

The 42-year-old Shell is hired after Davis thought he made a mistake when he made Mike Shanahan his head coach. The Raiders were 7-9 in Shanahan's first season last year and 1-3 this season.

A third-round draft choice in 1968 from Maryland State (now Maryland-Eastern Shore), Shell was an outstanding offensive tackle for 15 years with the Raiders and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame two months ago. He has served as the team's offensive line coach since he retired as a player after the 1982 season.