Raiders Vault: The Feud That Changed The AFC West

We will be publishing a special string of articles to help familiarize many of the new fans in Las Vegas with Raiders history. To kick off this collection, here is a retrospect on the ugly feud between the late Al Davis and former coach Mike Shanahan.

Even with the Raiders moving East to Las Vegas, the rivalry with the Denver Broncos will continue to be an NFL stalwart. The grudge between Davis versus Shanahan was ugly, so much so that no coach-owner rivalry has been as petty as this one.

Related: What happened to Raiders Mystique?

Raiders: Doomed From The Outset

When Shanahan was hired in 1988, he replaced one of the most popular head coaches in Raider’s history, Tom Flores. From the outset, Shanahan was seen as an outsider having been the first head coach hired outside of the organization in more than a generation. However, it was Davis’ infamous micro-managing style that doomed the coach and sealed his fate before he even started. In Shanahan’s only full season, he went a dismal 7-9. After starting 1-3 the season after, he was quickly let go following a year of internal dissension that led to various in-house fights between assistants, and marred Shanahan’s tenure. Additionally, unproductive drafts in previous years left him without much talent to work with, including a mess at the quarterback position.


After winning a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers in 1994 as offensive coordinator, the Broncos hired Shanahan to be their head coach. This obviously infuriated Davis, who told Shanahan he wouldn’t pay his back salary if he took the Broncos’ job. This further grew the quarrel that would continue for more than a decade. Shanahan dominated the Silver and Black during that span. Interestingly enough, Shanahan went on to lead the Broncos to consecutive Super Bowl wins while dragging out the financial mess with Davis.

Depending on whom you talk to and what you read online, many believe Shanahan undermined his own job. Obviously, only the man himself would know the truth to that. As for Davis, it was not a good look and showed pettiness from his part. The Raiders never won a Super Bowl after the 1980s and Shanahan went on to great successes. The winner of that feud’s pretty clear.

You May Also Like: The Greatest 2nd Round Pick in Raiders History

*Top Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Join The Ramble Email List

error: Nice Try!
Subscribe to RaiderRamble

Get updates from RaiderRamble via email:

Join 5,868 other subscribers