The Raiders have had only three winning seasons since managing general partner Al Davis fired Art Shell more than a decade ago. Now, after being away from coaching for five years, Shell has accepted the challenge of trying to resurrect the franchise.
Shell, 59, was hired as the Raiders' 15th coach on Feb. 11, 2006. The Hall of Fame left offensive tackle replaces Norv Turner, who was dismissed Jan. 3 after a combined 9-23 record the previous two seasons.
"It's coming home," Shell told reporters at a news conference at the Raiders' Alameda, Calif. training headquarters. "It's coming home to finish what I started.
"When the job opened up I felt our organization, my football team needed me. I can't tell you how much I feel about being a part of the Raiders organization.
"I know how to win. I know how to lead. I expect us to have the kind of success this franchise deserves."
Shell (right) is the sixth head coach hired by Davis since 1995, when the team returned to Oakland after 13 seasons in Los Angeles. Since losing Super Bowl XXXVII at the end of the 2002 season, the Raiders are 13-35 in regular-season games — the first time they've had three straight losing seasons since Davis joined the franchise in 1963.
Shell had a 56-41 record (including 2-3 playoffs) in five-plus seasons (1989-94) during his first stint as Raiders coach.
"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."
Shell said: "It's going to be a tough-love thing for me. We're going to get this thing turned right."
The Raiders reportedly initiated negotiations with Shell after Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and University of Louisville coach Bobby Petrino decided to remain in their current jobs. Davis said at the Feb. 11 news conference that Petrino was the only other candidate offered the job before turning it down.
Shell reportedly first met with Davis on Feb. 3 and returned to Alameda for more face-to-face talks with his former/future boss on Feb. 10. Contract terms weren't announced.
It took the Raiders 38 days to find a successor to Turner, who went 5-11 in 2004 and 4-12 in 2005. The team talked to "four to eight" candidates, Davis said.
"As all of you (reporters) point out, I am getting older," Davis, 76, said, "and I do want some people that I know and I believe in to promote the Raiders and give us that lift that we need."
Shell has a Hall of Fame resume as an NFL player and a winning record as a head coach. His 27-year association with the franchise gives him experience and insight to co-exist with the demanding Davis.
"Everybody has a way of doing things," Shell said. "The Raiders have a way of doing things. We're about winning. And we will win."
After six seasons as an assistant coach, Shell (right) replaced the fired Mike Shanahan as Raiders coach four games into the 1989 season. He led the team to the 1990 AFC Championship game, the first of three postseason appearances for the Raiders during his five-plus seasons as coach.
At the time of his hiring, Shell was the first black coach in modern NFL history. He becomes the seventh one currently in the league.
During the Feb. 11 news conference, Davis said he's "never forgiven himself" for firing Shell.
After being dismissed by Davis, Shell worked as offensive line coach for two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and four with the Atlanta Falcons before leaving the coaching ranks following the 2000 season. He has been working as the senior vice president of football operations and development for the NFL.
Shell was voted to eight Pro Bowls and played on two Super Bowl championship teams during his 15-season career (1968-1982) with the Raiders. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
Shell inherits a Raiders team in desperate need of leadership and victories.
In the 2005 season, the Raiders were winless in six games against the AFC West, another dubious first for Davis since he was hired as coach/general manager in 1963. Oakland is 1-15 in its past 16 division games.
The Raiders also have a penchant for penalties in recent seasons. They've led the league in penalties the past three seasons.
Shell's biggest task is to improve a Raiders offense that ranked 23rd in scoring (18.1 points per game) and 29th in rushing (85.6 yards) in 2005. Despite trading for high-profile receiver Randy Moss and signing free-agent running back LaMont Jordan during the offseason, the Raiders struggled on offense — scoring 21 or more points in only three games.
"Attitudes and things like that will have to be changed somewhat," Shell said. "Toughness will be a part of what we are going to be doing. I expect us to be a tough football team.
"When you walk out there into that stadium, you walk out there with a presence. Mr. Davis calls it a swagger. When you walk into a stadium, they know the Raiders are in town."
The Raiders reportedly also interviewed Al Saunders, James Lofton, Rod Marinelli, and had preliminary talks with former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz and Raiders quarterback coach John Shoop.
Saunders accepted the job as Washington Redskins offensive coordinator and Marinelli was hired as Detroit Lions head coach. Martz reportedly informed the Raiders in late January that he no longer was interested in being considered for their vacancy. He was hired as Lions offensive coordinator on Feb. 8.