Shell has return engagement as Raiders coach

2/11/2006 - NFL Oakland Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Al Davis had grown sick of watching his
rivals beat up on the Oakland Raiders, outplaying, outcoaching and
even out-toughing his team.

The swagger that once made the Raiders the NFL's most
intimidating team and contributed so much to his mantras of
"Commitment to Excellence" and "Just Win Baby" had long left
the franchise.

After suffering through three straight losing seasons for the
first time since joining the franchise more than four decades ago,
Davis reached back into the past to try to restore that aura.

Davis introduced Art Shell as his new coach Saturday, bringing
back his former Hall of Fame offensive lineman and head coach to
turn his struggling organization around.

"It may take us a short while, but we'll get that nastiness of
the Raiders back," Davis said. "That's one of the reasons I'm
going to depend on the great Art Shell to help us get that done."

Davis admitted Shell was the team's second choice after
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino turned down an offer. And Shell will
have a tough job ahead of him.

The Raiders have won just 13 games the past three seasons,
including only one against division rivals Denver, Kansas City and
San Diego in coach Norv Turner's two years at the helm.

Davis talked about how much the Broncos, Chiefs and Chargers
hate the Raiders and he wants a coach who can instill the
importance of that rivalry into his players. Shell is ready for the

"When you walk out there, when you into that stadium, you walk
out there with a presence. Mr. Davis called it a swagger," Shell
said. "I just want to get back to the point where when we walk
into a stadium, they know the Raiders are in town. And when we walk
into the Coliseum, the Raiders are here. ... We've got to create
that attitude, and that's what I expect to do."

Shell hasn't been a head coach since the Raiders fired him
following the 1994 season and hasn't worked on the sidelines at all
since leaving his job as an assistant with the Atlanta Falcons five
years ago.

Even though he has spent the last five years in the NFL office,
Shell is confident the game has not passed him by. Defensive
coordinator Rob Ryan is staying with the team and Shell will have
to hire an offensive coordinator after Jimmy Raye left to take a
job with the New York Jets.

Shell's style will be a familiar one, harkening back to the
Raiders' glory years.

"Everybody has a way of doing things. The Raiders have a way of
doing things. We're about winning. And we will win," Shell said.
"We will be tough. We will be power. And I want the ability, as
always to strike from anywhere on the field. That's important to

He has the personnel to do that with a strong-armed quarterback
in Kerry Collins and one of the game's best deep threats in Randy
Moss. The Raiders still have to decide whether to stick with
Collins, who will count $12.9 million against the salary cap next
season. Turner's inability to maximize Moss' ability played a big
role in his failure as coach.

One of the biggest areas of improvement needed for the Raiders
is at offensive line. The team averaged only 3.8 yards per carry,
allowed 45 sacks and committed far too many penalties from the
offensive live.

That's Shell's strength. He played in eight Pro Bowls and won
two Super Bowls in his superb career. He coached the lines for the
Raiders, Chiefs and Falcons, winning another Super Bowl with the
Raiders and helping Atlanta get to one as well.

"I'm excited about having a coach. I'm even more excited having
a former Raiders player as coach," linebacker Danny Clark said in
a phone interview. "He has been in that locker room, played for
that owner and knows what it's like to be in silver and black."

Davis said he has "never forgiven myself" for firing Shell. He
has gone through five coaches in 11 seasons since firing Shell,
possibly scaring some candidates away from the job.

Shell had a 54-38 regular-season record with the Raiders,
leading them to the AFC championship game following the 1990
season. The Raiders have had only three winning seasons since Shell
was fired -- one less than he had in five full seasons as coach.

"As I said at the end of the season, changing the coach staff
won't do anything if the players don't want to go out there and
play," safety Jarrod Cooper said in a phone interview. "It's on
us to get this done."

The first black head coach in modern NFL history when the
Raiders hired him in 1989, Shell only got a handful of interviews
for another chance over the years despite his record.

Several other coaches, including Turner, got second chances
despite having losing records in their first stints, a practice
advocates for minority coaches attribute to a "double-standard."

Cyrus Mehri, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who partnered with
the late Johnnie Cochran to pressure the NFL into establishing
minority hiring guidelines for teams after the 2002 season, has
spotlighted Shell's situation in the past.

"He definitely has the fire in the belly to get back in
coaching," Mehri said. "We had him as one of the people we
thought deserved serious consideration because we know how much
he's ready to get back into this."

Shell becomes the seventh black coach currently in the league.
Of the 10 openings this offseason, the only other black coach hired
was Herman Edwards, who was traded from the New York Jets to the
Kansas City Chiefs.