CIAA great back as NFL head coachAl Davis turned to a familiar face to turn the Oakland Raiders around after the worst three-year stretch since he joined the franchise more than four decades ago.
Davis re-hired Art Shell for his second stint as Raiders coach on Feb. 10, one day after Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt became the latest candidate to tell the team he didn't want the job.
Shell, a long shot when the search began after Norv Turner was fired Jan. 3, first talked to Davis about taking the job last week. The 59-year-old Shell met with Davis and other team officials and was formally introduced at a news conference. Drafted from Maryland State (now Maryland-Eastern Shore), Shell made eight Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowls as a standout offensive tackle in a 15-year career with the Raiders that led to his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is slated for induction into the CIAA-John B. McLendon Hall of Fame on March 3.
The first black head coach in modern NFL history when the Raiders hired him in 1989, Shell becomes the seventh one 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.
Shell, who had been working as the senior vice president of football operations and development for the NFL, hasn't been a head coach since the Raiders fired him following the 1994 season in a move Davis has said he still regrets.
Davis has gone through five coaches in 11 seasons since firing Shell, possibly scaring some candidates away from the job. Shell did have success while working with Davis. The coach had a 54-38 regular-season record with the Raiders, leading them to the AFC Championship Game following the 1990 season. But he didn't get a second chance as a head coach until now. He worked as offensive line coach for two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and four with the Atlanta Falcons before stepping down following the 2000 season.
The Raiders have had only three winning seasons since Shell was fired -- one less than he had in five full seasons as coach.
With less than two weeks until the scouting combine begins, Shell will have to work quickly to put together his staff and set his offseason priorities. He takes over a team that has struggled mightily since going to the Super Bowl following the 2002 season. The Raiders won 13 games over the last three years, the first time they had three losing seasons in a row since 1963.
© 2006 Azeez Communications, Inc.