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Elvis Grbac: Mike Shanahan Ordered Me to Throw a Football at Al Davis’ Head

With the passing of Al Davis over the weekend came many stories about how he changed the game of football for the better.  Davis was glorified by players, fans, and writers and much of the praise he received is deserved.  While Davis left behind a legacy of positives — as we outlined in our piece on Saturday — the fact that he was not a very well-liked figure across much of the league has been somewhat lost.

On Wednesday, Rick Maese of the Washington Post dug up a 13-year-old NY Times article that reminds us Davis had as many friends as he did enemies when he was alive.  One of those enemies was Mike Shanahan, who was the head coach of the Raiders for just over a season in 1988 and 1989 before a feud about money became too much for both men to handle.

In 1994, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers.  Prior to a game with the Raiders, he was working with quarterback Elvis Grbac, who says Shanahan ordered him to throw a ball at Davis’ head from about 30 feet away.

“I can’t do that,” Grbac said he replied. “If I hit him, do you know what he could do to me?”

Being the control freak that he is, Shanahan simply glared at Grbac and said, “Throw the ball.”  The quarterback obliged but Davis was able to get out of the way just in time, leaving the pigskin sailing just a few inches from his head. Unsurprisingly, Davis stared in the direction of Shanahan and made an obscene gesture.  A former Raiders coach who witnessed the exchange confirmed it at the time the article was written.

There are a number of similar stories floating around out there about people who could not get along with Davis and had a run-in with the Raider legend at some point.  Davis certainly left his mark on the game of football, but let us not assume that means his reign came with an absence of sworn enemies.


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  • Anonymous

    Hopefully Davis paid Shanahan the money he owed him before his “Weekend at Bernies” machine cut off.

  • Anonymous

    Which scab? he had about a dozen.

  • Anonymous

    You know why they weren’t? Because it didn’t happen.

    An incident like this would have already come out. Not to mention the fines and such that would have obviously accompanied it.

  • Anonymous

    How many Super Bowls did Elway win BEFORE Shanahan became the head coach?  0 (out of 3)

    How many Super Bowls did Elway win AFTER Shanahan became head coach? 2 (in a row)

    And the second one was against Elway’s former coach in those SB losses. Dan Reeves.

    That renders your post null and void.

    Like your brain.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7ZHKECHRK7Y4J6MJYLAIPRAMHY mustang

    I’ve probably seen, played and coached more football than you have seen…I think you’ll find that more than a few people share my opinion. Sort of like baseball. A great catcher can make a so-so pitcher look really good…a lousy catcher can turn a quality pitcher into a B/P level hurler in no time at all. Montana was blessed with great accessories…on the line, and in his receiving corps. In ‘Frisco. Not so much in Kansas…and how did he do there? Yea….exactly…just another so-so Q/B. When he had to actually look for open receivers…he had no line and limited dwnfield tools…and he was no better than anyone else…and certainly not capable of running the offense like he supposedly did in ‘Frisco. Facts suck eh?

  • Anonymous

    Hay Virgil you have almost as much class as shanahan. Go outside and throw a football at someone’s head.

  • Anonymous

    And which Super Bowl winning- Hall of Fame dwelling-QB in the history of the game could play great behind a mediocre line mustang? The answer is NONE. No QB can play great when he’s on his azz. Ask Mr “18-0-but-lost-the-Super-Bowl” Tom Brady. Facts suck for your theory too! You obviously have your own agenda against Montana… Did he regularly beat your favorite team up when you were young? Awwwww…poor baby.

  • Albert Gomez

    First 2 Super Bowls his WRs were Dwight Clark, Freddie Solomon, Mike Wilson and a bunch of other scrubs. With all due respect to all of them, not exactly your HOF group….barely pro bowlers (maybe 1 or 2 ..if that). And his RBs? Earl Cooper, Wendell Tyler, Roger Craig. Apart from Craig’s 1000/1000 season (he did have a 1500yd season much later) this was a mediocre group at best. His last 2 Super Bowls had more talent, but what did SYoung do with that talent after he took over – NADA!! Not until SF literally bought a SB in 1994.

    Sure the O line was there from the start, but EVERY great winning QB has to have that…it’s a given.

    And your point about being a so-so QB in KC – Are you kidding me? He took the league doormats in the Chiefs all the way to the AFC championship in his first year. And his WRs? I have no clue who they were…haha…RBs? Old washed up Marcus Allen. Facts suck eh?

    Montana G.O.A.T (with Brady knocking on the door…I’m a Montana fanboy, but Brady is pretty much on the same level…but one thing Montana never did was lose a Super Bowl OR throw an interception in one (4 games!!)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZTNR7U37XVIVXRKBTPCW7PXBRE Paul Smith

    Thank you! Finally someone tells the truth. Everyone has been talking like he was their best friend and confidant. If anyone else might tell the truth it should be Marcus Allen. They did not get along(is putting it mildly) Allen could have posted even greater numbers and prob. could have made a lot more money.Ask him sometime.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_56LHKXA3X6NOH6OR6PR56RVC3M Jeffrey Steele

    Who cares if it is true or not!  Davis will not back down to anyone, let alone Shanahan.  These two are so much alike that they could never get along, so be it.

    Let me say this about Al Davis, and this is a FACT.  Davis inducted 9 players into the Hall of Fame.  I will say it again, 9.  That is not the sign of a classless man, and before you say anything about them all being Raiders, one of those men was Lance Alworth, a Charger.  He helped pay for medical bills for former players, and help pay for funerals of fallen NFL players.  You still think he is a bad man?  Sure, he did not do the Raiders any favors for the past 10 years, but with everything he has accomplished in the NFL, those 10 years do not tarnish his legacy. 

    You can spew all the hate you want (Virgil I’m talking to you d-bag) but the NFL you love to watch today wouldn’t be here without Davis.  Don’t beleive me?  Educate yourself, look it up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PAPAFLASH Mark Fleischauer

    Al Davis was hated becaue his Raiders are hated, and granted, that’s just the way he wanted it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ON2Q3PFLNA6D7X45KFWMIQOTVY Eric Z

    Is Shanahan still trying to get his money from Al’s estate?

  • Anonymous

     They beat who????   The 1-4 Cardinals and 0-4 Rams!!  Oh, that 3-2 powerhouse Giants?  Lost to 2-2 Dallas…who Every sports analyst around agrees is playing terrible.

    Yeah…..3-1 against the bottom of the barrel.   What Excellent coaching.

  • Anonymous

    Probably.