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Shell Fires Back

Raiders coach Art Shell told reporters in a post-practice interview on Nov. 29 that a person in the teamís front office is backstabbing the teamís coaching staff.

Shell, right, accused the unnamed dissenter of making derogatory statements to "cronies in the news media," about him and his staff, particularly former offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, who was demoted Nov. 28.

"I donít think that individual is on the same page as us," Shell said. "Not when you go . . . call around the league and stuff is getting back across my desk about the things youíre saying about me personally, about my coaching staff, personally, about my team personally. Thatís a problem for me.

"I won't sit back and allow it to happen any more. When they root against me, they're rooting against the Raiders."

Some Bay Area news outlets identified the target of Shellís criticism as Raiders senior personnel executive Mike Lombardi.

Lombardi, 46, has served as de facto general manager, a position the Raiders do not identify by that name, since the departure in 2002 of Bruce Allen. Previously Lombardi worked as an NFL Insider for CBS-TVís "NFL Today" show. His NFL experience includes personnel director for the Cleveland Browns and as a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Shellís comments came one day after the team announced that Walsh, a close friend of Shellís, had been replaced as Oakland offensive coordinator by former tight ends coach John Shoop.

As the losses have mounted for the 2-9 Raiders this season, Walshís play-calling drew criticism from former Raiders players, fans, media and current Raiders players.

Through the seasonís first 11 games, Oakland is last in the league in scoring (12.0 points per game), total offense (239.8 yards per game and sacks allowed (53).

"I felt at this time the decision (to change offensive coordinators) needed to be made," Shell said. "It was very hard for me to do because I have a lot of respect for Tom Walsh. (He) has taken a lot of abuse from a lot of people, and that has disappointed me.

"Sometimes grownups can be like young kids. They can be cruel. And ... starting back in February when we first got here, the character assassination started."

Shell is no stranger to backstabbing. The Hall of Fame offensive tackle was in his sixth season of his first term as Raiders coach in 1994 when a group of assistant coaches reportedly worked behind the scenes to seek his ouster. Mike White, an assistant on Shellís staff from 1990 to 1994, was named Shellís successor following the head coach's dismissal after the 1994 season.

Shell told reporters on Nov. 29 that the current situation has similar overtones. "You got it right," Shell said. "And it was on my staff was the problem. I donít have that problem on my staff now.

"It hurts. It shouldnít be like that. Every organization should be on the same page from the bottom up ... trying to do the right things, trying to help this organization win."

C.C. Times, The Mercury News
& Oakland Tribune

Updated: 12-1-2006


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