Shell’s .587 career winning percentage is the highest of any coach hired this offseason, and his 54 career victories are more than any other new coach. He guided The Team of the Decades to the playoffs three times, compiling a 2-3 record in postseason action and advancing to the AFC Championship Game in his first full season on the sidelines.
“Tradition, history, excellence, leadership is wrapped up all in one when you mention the name Art Shell; there is no question about that,” said Raiders Owner Al Davis. “And here we are here today, still with great records, still with great tradition, great history, but we’re going to do more for it than we’ve ever done in the past. The guy that I’m tapping, that the Raiders are tapping to lead us back—and we will be back—is Art Shell, the 15th head coach of the Raiders.”
Shell first became head coach on October 3, 1989, four games into the season, making him the first African-American head coach in the NFL. He took over a team that had struggled to a 1-3 start and led them to a 7-5 record in the final 12 games of the year. In 1990, Shell’s first full season as head coach, the Raiders went 12-4, capturing the AFC Western Division crown for the first time in five years and won the franchise’s first playoff game since Super Bowl XVIII.
“It’s coming home; it’s coming home to finish what I started,” said Shell. “It’s like going out into the wilderness and you travel around, you learn, you gather experience and new ideas, but yet you evolve as a person and as a coach, and I think I’ve done that.
“I just can’t tell you how I feel about being a part of the Raider organization again. There are certain standards that are very high and expectations are high. I understand that. The players have to understand that, the coaches have to understand that, and of course the whole building has to understand that.
“We’re about winning and we will win. We will be tough, we will be power, and I want the ability, as always, to strike from anywhere on the football field. That’s important to me. You know, people say, ‘How are you going to change? Are you going to change what you’ve done?’ I grew up in this organization. My philosophy has not changed. I believe in the things that we have done throughout the years, and those things work.”
Shell was named Coach of the Year following the 1990 season, becoming the fifth Raiders head coach to be so honored. Shell coached the AFC squad to victory in the Pro Bowl following that season, and in the process became the first former Pro Bowl player to coach a Pro Bowl-winning team. Shell played in eight Pro Bowls in a 15-year career that spanned the course of three decades, the second-most by any Raider, and was an All-Pro in 1973, 74 and 77. He played in 207 games, the fourth-most in team history.
Shell played in 23 playoff games in his career, including Super Bowls XI and XV. He was credited for a near-perfect performance in Super Bowl XI against Minnesota, preventing Jim Marshall, the Vikings’ star defensive end, from recording any tackles as the Raiders captured their first World Championship.
Shell was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 5, 1989, becoming the sixth Raider to be enshrined. After the conclusion of his illustrious playing career in 1983, Shell joined the Raiders coaching staff under Tom Flores and helped coach the team to victory in Super Bowl XVIII. He was named offensive line coach in 1984 and remained in that position until his promotion to head coach in 1989.
Shell coached the offensive line for Kansas City from 1995-96 and for Atlanta from 1997-2000. For the past five years, Shell has worked as the Senior Vice President for Football Operations and Development in the National Football League office. He has also served on the USA Football Board of Directors.
Arthur Shell, Jr. was born November 26, 1946 in Charleston, South Carolina. He attended Bonds-Wilson High School in North Charleston, where he was an All-State center and defensive tackle on the football team and an All-State center on the school’s basketball team. He was named to the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1990.
Shell attended Maryland State College (now Maryland Eastern-Shore) and graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Arts. At Maryland State, he was a three-time All-Conference tackle on both offense and defense and an All-America selection in both 1966 and 1967. He also lettered two seasons in basketball. The Shell family includes wife Janice and sons Arthur III and Christopher.