Question: Prior to the 2006 season, much was made of the rift between Al Davis and Art Shell finally being mended. As a lifelong Raiders fan, I was thrilled that these two Silver & Black legends had finally worked out their differences. Now, I've read that Shell's firing was very contentious, and the old friends are, once again, no longer on speaking terms. While the 2006 Art Shell was obviously a bad fit as head coach, he deserves a place in the Raiders organization. What is the status of the Davis-Shell relationship now?
- Joel Eagelston, Phoenix, Ariz.
Answer: I’d say that relationship is still on frosty terms. Shell believes he did what Davis asked him to do to the team in terms of discipline and structure and he paid for it with his job. Since being fired, Davis has said it was Shell’s decision to draft safety Michael Huff instead of quarterback Matt Leinart. Now the Raiders could be looking for a quarterback of the future this year in the draft.
And in Shell’s rift with personnel executive Mike Lombardi, it appears Davis sided with Lombardi. Things were so contentious between Lombardi and Shell, Lombardi wasn’t allowed on the practice field last season. Shell believed Lombardi undermined his coaching staff by talking to national media outlets as an unnamed source and belittling offensive coordinator Tom Walsh.
Lombardi is still employed by the Raiders, though there are some within the organization that believe Lombardi could be gone in the future. Also, when Shell was fired, the statement issued by the Raiders alluded to Shell remaining with the team in some capacity. That wouldn’t be in personnel at this time, as Shell would probably never work with Lombardi. Also, there was no written agreement or job description of what job Shell might have with the Raiders.
Things could change, but with a new coach in place and several players who weren’t happy with how things went last season, it’s doubtful Davis would bring Shell back around the team anytime soon.
- Jason Jones