Brown observes anniversary of Shell hiring


Brown observes anniversary of Shell hiring

ALAMEDA -- Twenty-three years ago Wednesday, the Raiders and the late Al Davis made history when Art Shell became the first African-American head coach in modern NFL history.Shell was replacing the fired Mike Shanahan, let go after a 1-3 start to the 1989 season and a 7-9 record in 1988, and was officially promoted from offensive line coach on Oct. 3, 1989. Six days later, Shell and the then-Los Angeles Raiders beat the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.Willie Brown, a longtime Raiders staffer and current team ambassador, took a special pride in his former teammate getting the job."It was a very big moment for the organization and Mr. Davis for having the guts, I should say, and the desire to be the first to hire (an African-American), particularly a person who played for him -- Art Shell," Brown told on Wednesday.Ten years before hiring Shell, Davis tapped Tom Flores, who became the first minority to win a Super Bowl as a head coach. Flores, who won two Lombardi Trophies, retired after the 1987 season and Shanahan was hired after a search in which Brown's name was floated as a potential candidate.Nearly a quarter of a century later, though, Brown was still elated with the choice of Shell in 1989."Art was prepared, he was ready to be a head coach and Mr. Davis knew that," Brown said. "And his choice was him, regardless of color. I don't think Mr. Davis went after Art in terms of being the first (African-American) coach in the National Football League. I think his idea was trying to find the right person to fit this organization."He didn't think about the color of his skin. He didn't care what color you were. He was concerned about getting the right person as a head coach, the right people as football players."Shell would finish the '89 season with a 7-5 record before going 12-4 and taking the Raiders to the 1990 AFC title game and being named NFL coach of the year. He would coach through the 1994 season and compile a record of 54-38 and a playoff record of 2-3. He only had one non-losing season -- 7-9 in 1992 -- but Davis fired him after a 9-7 mark in 1994, the team's last year in Los Angeles.A disastrous second-run in 2006 ended with a 2-14 record and Shell being shown the door again.Still, were it not for Shell being hired in 1989, perhaps the roads for the likes of Dennis Green, Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin and even former Raiders coach Hue Jackson would have encountered many more detours and taken a much longer time.And since Shell's 1989 hiring, 13 other African-Americans have been hired as an NFL head coach, with six others being interim head coaches."To me it's big because it's another black man getting a job and he's contributing to the National Football League, in terms of trying to set some structures, some ideas and value in terms of his players," Brown said."I think in the community, all over the world, when you see a black coach getting another position, it means a lot to the black community."

Will a Gruden-Lynch partnership work? ‘Guys like him interest me’


Will a Gruden-Lynch partnership work? ‘Guys like him interest me’

Jon Gruden asked to speak with Marshawn Lynch several times but got turned down.

His job title earned an automatic veto. The enigmatic running back doesn’t talk to the press, even a Monday Night Football analyst with Gruden’s street cred. No production meetings, no insight flowing outside the inner circle.

Lynch must honor the next request. Gruden’s his boss, after all.

“I’m anxious to sit down with Marshawn and meet him,” the new Raiders head coach said Tuesday during his introductory press conference. “We’ll talk about his future and the Raiders. I can’t wait. He came back to the Raiders for similar, I think, reasons that I did. I think he loves Oakland. I think he loves the Raiders and guys like him interest me, so I’m looking forward to talking to him.”

The veteran running back and Oakland native has a year left on a two-year deal struck last April. The 2018 payouts, per, include a $4 million base salary, a $250,000 workout bonus, a $1 million roster bonus and $750,000 in per-game roster bonuses. There are also significant performance-based incentives.

Marshawn is under contract, but also has some say in this matter. He could post an image of cleats hanging on a telephone wire like he did after the 2016 Super Bowl and call it a career. Lynch made it clear in a rare press conference that he didn’t miss football. He returned for the opportunity to play in front of a East Bay community he champions and bring attention to his significant charitable efforts.

There are several possible outcomes from the Gruden/Lynch tete-a-tete. Gruden might not consider him worth the while. Lynch may walk away, for good this time. Or, the two could traverse 2018 together.

Predicting Marshawn’s movements is a fool’s errand. We can, however, make an educated pros and cons list. Let’s take a look at some factors influencing the ultimate outcome.


-- The phrase in Gruden’s last sentence above may have tipped his hand: “Guys like him interest me.” Lynch is an intense presence, one of his generation’s most physical runners. Gruden can use on-field talents like him, though it’s uncertain whether he’s a perfect fit in an offense that has certainly evolved during nine years in the broadcast booth.

Also, Gruden loves Oakland. Lynch loves Oakland. That may be a good starting point.

-- Marshawn still has it. The 31-year old was the Raiders’ most productive skill player in 2017’s second half. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry over the last season games, totaling 625 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He also had at least 92 yards total offense in five of those contests. When he’s motivated and healthy – he didn’t miss a single practice with injury – Lynch can be a force on the ground

-- Gruden reportedly hired Tom Cable as offensive line coach a few days back. That’s probably a plus from Lynch’s perspective. Cable was Seattle offensive line coach, and heavily involved in the running game, during Lynch’s best seasons. He ran a system that fit Lynch well, though Gruden said schemes will be based around team strengths. Lynch and Cable reportedly get along well, and could be a major reason why Lynch finds it appetizing to return.

-- Lynch carried locker room clout. Last year’s coaching staff didn’t love him, but player certainly did.


-- Lynch comes with some baggage. He’s an eccentric sort who does his own thing, at times without regard for small rules. That may rub Gruden and staff the wrong way. It certainly bothered Del Rio’s crew, especially when he seemed to have his own set of rules.

The Raiders tolerated Lynch’s choice to sit during the national anthem all year, despite being vocal against such actions the year before. He also had a production crew following him around quite often, especially in camp.

He got suspended for sticking up for the other team in Week 7, protecting great friend, Oakland native and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters in an on-field altercation. He then practiced with his old high school during the suspension.

Gruden may not love the prospect of dealing with extra weight, depending on how strict he plans to be during this coaching tenure.

-- Lynch turns 32 in April. While Lynch might be an exception, running backs often fall off a production cliff in their early 30s. Can the Raiders get good value from Lynch at that age, knowing full well another running back might be added to the roster?

-- Lynch may simply not be into another year in Oakland. He enjoyed taking 2016 off, travelling the world and increasing charitable and business endeavors. Is his drive still strong?

Report: Former Raiders head coach returning to join Gruden's staff


Report: Former Raiders head coach returning to join Gruden's staff

Jon Gruden isn’t the only Raiders head coach returning to the Silver and Black.

Tom Cable’s on the way, albeit in a lesser role. Gruden already has the top job. Cable’s coming back, NFL Network reported Saturday afternoon, as offensive line coach.

He occupied that role in Oakland from 2007 until he assumed the head coach role when Lane Kiffin was fired five games into the 2008 season. The interim tag was lifted in 2009, and he coached the Raiders to an 8-8 record in 2010.

He followed that feat with the now famous quote, “We’re not losers anymore.” The Raiders had seven straight losing seasons before finishing .500 in what would be Cable’s last season with the club. He was 17-27 in two-plus seasons as Raiders head coach.

He went to Seattle after that, and spent seven seasons as Seahawks assistant head coach in charge of the offensive line. He also worked extensively with Marshawn Lynch during the rusher’s salad days in Seattle.

Cable returning to the Raiders seemed highly unlikely after late owner Al Davis detailed Cable’s misgivings in a post-firing press conference. Cable was allegedly involved in a 2009 incident where then Raiders assistant Randy Hanson was left with a broken jaw. ESPN also aired a report where three women accused Cable of domestic violence. One of Cable’s accusers sued Cable and named the Raiders as a co-defendant. Davis docked Cable’s pay in relation to that litigation.

Cable is a respected position coach, though the Seahawks offensive line has fallen on hard times. He and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell were fired after a disappointing season where the Seahawks missed the postseason.

Offensive line coach was a top priority as Gruden built a staff. Cable is known for using a zone blocking scheme, though it remains uncertain what he’ll use in Oakland with a powerful, expensive offensive front locked in place save the right tackle spot.