It's getting the job, not being the first black in the modern-day NFL to become a head coach, that means the most to Art Shell.
"I don't want to get involved in that. The significance in this is I am now the head coach of the Los Angeles Raiders," Shell said Tuesday when asked if it had taken too long for a team to hire a black coach."Just to be involved with the Silver and Black itself means a lot to me," said Shell, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the Raiders.
Perhaps it is appropriate that the Silver and Black hired the first black head coach. Certainly, it fits Al Davis, the team's managing general partner, who will do whatever he believes will best help the Raiders win, no matter how controversial or precedent-setting.
Shell takes over a long-time winner which has become a loser - since late in the 1986 season, the Raiders have a 13-27 record, including 1-3 this year.
Shell, 42, succeeds Mike Shanahan, who was fired two days after the Raiders lost their third straight game. Shanahan was in the second year of a three-year contract. The Raiders were 7-9 last season, Shanahan's first.
"It is an historic event; I understand the significance of it," Shell said. "I'm proud of it, but I'm also a Raider.
"I don't believe the color of my skin entered into this decision. I was chosen because he felt I was the right person at this time."
Davis said the significance of Shell's hiring can only be judged in the future.
"If this is an historic occasion, it'll really only be meaningful and historic if he is a great success," Davis said. "I just think he's the guy. I've watched this guy with all our young players through the years, I've watched him with our older players. He can communicate. He can inspire people to be great."
The naming of Shell came 15 years to the day after the Cleveland Indians made Frank Robinson the first black manager in major league baseball.
Shanahan, 37, had been the youngest coach in the NFL but found himself at odds with Davis almost from the beginning of his brief tenure.
Shell will try to restore the Raiders to the glory they knew during the 15 years in which he was an anchor of their offensive line as one of the top tackles in the game.
Shell joined the team's coaching staff after his retirement following the 1982 season. He has worked with the offensive line.
Shell said he expects the Raiders to halt their skid. "We've got great personnel and we've only played four games," he said. "The season's not over. We can turn this thing around."