Mike Shanahan

For other people named Mike Shanahan, see Mike Shanahan (disambiguation).
Mike Shanahan

Photograph of Shanahan on a football field wearing a white Washington Redskins t-shirt and dark-colored Redskins shorts holding a rolled up sheet of paper in his left hand a raising his right hand above his head

Shanahan at 2011 Redskins training camp
Personal information
Date of birth: (1952-08-24) August 24, 1952
Place of birth: Oak Park, Illinois
Career information
High school: Franklin Park (IL) East Leyden
College: Eastern Illinois
Career history
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season: 170–138 (.552)
Postseason: 8–6 (.571)
Career: 178–144 (.553)
Coaching stats at PFR

Michael Edward Shanahan (born August 24, 1952) is a former American football coach who has been the head coach of the Los Angeles Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL). He led the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1998 and 1999.

Early career

Shanahan played high school football at East Leyden High School, Franklin Park, Illinois, where he played wishbone quarterback for legendary Eagles coach Jack Leese's 1968 and 1969 teams. He held the single-game rushing record of 260 yards on 15 carries (which was set in a 32–8 win over Hinsdale South on September 20, 1969) until it was broken in 1976 by Dennis Cascio. He graduated from high school in June 1970.

He was a quarterback at Eastern Illinois University, where he joined Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity. In 1972, a piercingly hard hit on the practice field ruptured one of his kidneys, which caused his heart to stop for thirty seconds and nearly killed him. A priest was summoned to administer the last rites to Shanahan, a devout Roman Catholic.[1][2]

With his playing career abruptly ended, Shanahan entered coaching. After graduation, he served as an assistant coach at Northern Arizona University and the University of Oklahoma. He then returned to his alma mater as offensive coordinator and helped his school win the Division II football championship. Shanahan worked as the offensive coordinator for the University of Minnesota for a single season, before accepting the same position at the University of Florida under head coach Charley Pell in 1980. Shanahan stayed with the Gators through 1983.

NFL career

Assistant coaching stints

Shanahan first served as a receivers coach and later offensive coordinator for the Broncos under Dan Reeves in the 1980s. It was his skill as an offensive mind that garnered Shanahan the attention of maverick Los Angeles Raiders owner Al Davis. After Shanahan and the Raiders parted ways in 1989, Shanahan returned to the Broncos as an assistant. He was fired several years later by Reeves after finding himself in the middle of a growing feud between Reeves and quarterback John Elway.[3]

Los Angeles Raiders

Shanahan was hired by the Raiders in 1988 to replace longtime Raiders coach Tom Flores. He was the Raiders' first head coach hired from outside the organization since Davis himself 23 years earlier. Shanahan (who proved very unpopular with the players) and the micromanaging Davis clashed almost immediately, and this was only exacerbated after the Raiders finished a disappointing 7–9, losing four of their last five games. Tensions increased towards the end of the season when wide receivers coach and Shanahan loyalist Nick Nicolau got into a heated argument with assistant coach Art Shell (a Davis loyalist) in which Nicolau reportedly accused Shell of only having a job by virtue of his friendship with Davis. When Shell went to Davis later to ask if this was true, Davis' response was to immediately fire Nicolau. Shanahan responded by firing running backs coach Joe Scannella and offensive coordinator Tom Walsh (both Davis hires), but Davis ordered them both back to work. At the end of the season, Shanahan fired defensive assistants Willie Brown and Charlie Sumner. An enraged Davis re-hired Brown to a different position in the organization. When the Raiders began 1–3 in 1989, Shanahan himself was fired and replaced by Shell.[4] Shanahan's final Raiders record was 8–12 in less than two seasons, going 2–7 after a 6–5 start.

San Francisco 49ers

In 1992, Shanahan was hired as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers under Head Coach George Seifert, capping his rise with a victory in Super Bowl XXIX after the 1994 season. His years under Seifert placed him in the Bill Walsh coaching tree. In 1994 while coaching for the 49ers, Shanahan added to the ongoing feud between him and Raiders owner Al Davis when he had then QB Elvis Grbac throw a football at Davis' head.[5]

Denver Broncos

Shanahan's success with the 49ers earned him a head coaching spot once more, this time back in Denver with the Broncos beginning in 1995. He led the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl championships in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, during which time the Broncos set a then-record for victories in two seasons.

Between 1996–1998, the Broncos set the NFL record for victories by going 46–10 over a three-year span. The 1998 Broncos won their first 13 games on their way to a 14–2 mark. Shanahan, taking his cue from West Coast offense guru Bill Walsh, was well known for scripting the first 15 offensive plays of the game, and helped the 1998 Broncos set an NFL record for first quarter points scored in a season. In 2005, he passed Dan Reeves as the winningest coach in franchise history.

Shanahan is known for a run-heavy variation of the West Coast offense he coached in San Francisco. He has often found unheralded running backs from later rounds of the annual NFL Draft and then turned them into league-leading rushers behind small-but-powerful offensive lines. Examples of this phenomenon are Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell, all of whom have had at least one 1,000-yard season in a Denver uniform over the past 10 years.

After Elway's retirement and Davis' career-ending injuries, Shanahan went seven years without a playoff win (including three seasons when the Broncos didn't even make the playoffs), a drought which caused some criticism from fans. The playoff drought ended on January 14, 2006 when the Broncos defeated the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs at Invesco Field at Mile High.

In 1999, with the assistance of writer Adam Schefter, Shanahan penned Think Like a Champion, a motivational book about leadership. It was published by Harper Collins. In 2006, he cooperated with Stefan Fatsis's endeavor to spend a year as a Broncos place-kicker, and much of the resulting book A Few Seconds of Panic (2008) covers Shanahan's coaching from the player's point of view. On December 30, 2008, Shanahan was fired after the Broncos failed to make the playoffs during the 2008 NFL season.[6] It was the third consecutive year in which Denver didn't make the playoffs and the Broncos had spent most of the season well ahead of their division.

Washington Redskins

Shanahan August 5, 2010 at Redskins Park
Mike Shanahan at an Open Practice on August 5, 2010 at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA

In the early part of the 2009 season, it was reported that the Washington Redskins were interested in naming Shanahan their head coach, replacing Jim Zorn. Although this was reported by several media outlets, the Redskins' Vice President of Football Operations, Vinny Cerrato, stated that a coaching change would not be considered until the end of the season.[7] On November 18, 2009 ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Buffalo Bills had contacted Shanahan about their head coaching vacancy after the team parted ways with former coach Dick Jauron.[8]

On January 5, 2010, Shanahan was formally introduced as the Redskins' 24th full-time head coach. As part of the deal, he was also named vice president of football operations, with the final say on football matters. He was one of several coaches who also had the title or powers of general manager, along with New England's Bill Belichick and others.[9] Shanahan was signed to a five-year, $35 million contract.[10] Several months earlier, Bruce Allen was named the team's general manager. Shanahan and Allen split the duties held by a general manager, with Shanahan having the final say.[11] This model is similar to how Belichick and Scott Pioli worked during their eight years in New England.

Shanahan's son, Kyle Shanahan, became the offensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins on January 20, 2010.[12]

Shanahan had a combined 11–21 record in his first two seasons as Redskins coach, followed by a 3–6 start to the 2012 season, but ended the year with a seven-game winning streak on the way to the team's first NFC East title and home playoff game since the 1999 season. During this season Shanahan also continued his trend of developing unheralded draft picks into 1000-yard rushers, with the 6th-rounder Alfred Morris. The Redskins lost in the Wild Card round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 14–24, during which his quarterback Robert Griffin III sustained a tear of his LCL and a damaged ACL to his previously injured knee.[13][14] Shanahan came under criticism for his handling of the injury, both in bringing Griffin back to play after the initial injury on Dec 9 and keeping him in the game against the Seahawks after reinjuring the knee.[13][14] While there were reports in December 2012 that the Redskins were considering negotiating a contract extension with Shanahan in the 2013 offseason, this did not happen and there were later reports that Shanahan had considered resigning after the end of the year.[15][16]

Griffin underwent reconstructive surgery of his knee on January 9 and returned as the starter for the beginning of the 2013–2014 season, though Shanahan held him out of the preseason to protect him from further injury.[17][18][19] The team continued to struggle in 2013. With the final three games of the regular season, Shanahan decided to make Griffin inactive for the rest of the season because Shanahan thought it was best for both Griffin's and the Redskins' future.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder fired Shanahan on December 30, 2013. The team finished 3–13 in the 2013 season, and was in last place in the NFC East division 3 of 4 seasons. It is widely understood that his NFL coaching career has reached its end.

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
WonLostTiesWin %Finish Won Lost Win % Result
LAR1988 790.4383rd in AFC West
LAR1989 130.2503rd in AFC West
LAR Total8120.400---
DEN1995 880.5003rd in AFC West
DEN1996 1330.8131st in AFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Divisional Game.
DEN1997 1240.7502nd in AFC West 4 0 1.000 Super Bowl XXXII Champions.
DEN1998 1420.8751st in AFC West 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XXXIII Champions.
DEN1999 6100.3755th in AFC West
DEN2000 1150.6882nd in AFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Baltimore Ravens in AFC Wild-Card Game.
DEN2001 880.5003rd in AFC West
DEN2002 970.5632nd in AFC West
DEN2003 1060.6252nd in AFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Indianapolis Colts in AFC Wild-Card Game.
DEN2004 1060.6252nd in AFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Indianapolis Colts in AFC Wild-Card Game.
DEN2005 1330.8131st in AFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game.
DEN2006 970.5633rd in AFC West
DEN2007 790.4382nd in AFC West
DEN2008 880.5002nd in AFC West
DEN Total138860.61685.615
WAS2010 6100.3754th in NFC East
WAS2011 5110.3134th in NFC East
WAS2012 1060.6251st in NFC East 0 1 .000 Lost to Seattle Seahawks in NFC Wild-Card Game
WAS2013 3130.188 4th in NFC East
WAS Total24400.375 01.000


Coaching tree

NFL head coaches under whom Mike Shanahan has served:

Assistant coaches under Mike Shanahan who became NFL head coaches:

Assistant coaches under Mike Shanahan who became NCAA head coaches:


Shanahan is a Roman Catholic.[1][22][23] He and his wife, Peggy, have two children — a son, Kyle, the current Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator, and a daughter, Krystal. Shanahan is also a Brother in the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity.

In May 2008, Shanahan attended the wedding of George W. Bush's daughter Jenna Bush, who was the former college roommate of Shanahan's daughter.[24][25]

In July 2016, Shanahan hosted a fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. In October 2016, Shanahan spoke on Trump's behalf at a campaign rally in Loveland, CO. [26] [27]

See also


  1. 1 2 Fatsis, Stefan (July 1, 2008). "Inside the Mind of Mike Shanahan". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012.
  2. Jenkins, Sally (August 23, 2010). "Albert Haynesworth has failed every test issued by Mike Shanahan". The Washington Post.
  3. Freeman, Mike (January 24, 1999). "SUPER BOWL XXXIII: A Rivalry Beyond the Game; Rift Makes Reeves and Shanahan More Competitive". New York Times.
  4. Lieber, Jill (October 23, 1989). "Dreams Do Come True". Sports Illustrated.
  5. Elvis Grbac: Mike Shanahan Ordered Me to Throw a Football at Al Davis’ Head. Larry Brown Sports (October 10, 2011). Retrieved on December 30, 2013.
  6. "Broncos fire Shanahan after 14 seasons as head coach". ESPN.com. December 31, 2008.
  7. "Sources: Mike Shanahan Turned Down Redskins Coaching Job". NFL Fanhouse. October 19, 2009.
  8. "Sources: Bills contact Shanahan". ESPN.com. November 29, 2009.
  9. "Shanahan to coach Redskins". Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  10. "Shanahan to receive five-year deal with Redskins". Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  11. Maese, Rick "Redskins owner Dan Snyder concedes the stage to Mike Shanahan", The Washington Post, January 7, 2010
  12. "Kyle Shanahan: Offensive Coordinator". Washington Redskins. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  13. 1 2 Brown, Clifton (January 6, 2013). "Redskins vs. Seahawks: When it comes to RG3, short-term gain not worth risk of long-term pain". SportingNews.com.
  14. 1 2 Durante, Tom (January 7, 2013). "Fan outrage after Redskins coach allows injured Robert Griffin III in playoff game before star quarterback suffers damaged knee in horror fall". MailOnline and Associated Press.
  15. Maske, Mark " Redskins weighing possible contract extension for Mike Shanahan", The Washington Post, December 31, 2012
  16. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan blows off questions he wanted to quit. Usatoday.com (December 8, 2013). Retrieved on December 30, 2013.
  17. Starkey, JP (January 9, 2013) RGIII injury update: ACL surgery completed for Redskins QB. SBNation.com.
  18. Mike Shanahan’s fear of playing Robert Griffin III in preseason leaves him at odds with star QB. NY Daily News. August 17, 2013.
  19. Shanahan confirms RG3 will start Week 1. Fox News (September 3, 2013). Retrieved on December 30, 2013.
  20. Mike Shanahan Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro-Football-Reference.com (August 24, 1952). Retrieved on December 30, 2013.
  21. Mike Shanahan Background – DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG. Myfoxdc.com. Retrieved on December 30, 2013.
  22. "Mike Shanahan Background". My Fox DC. January 4, 2010. Archived from the original on September 8, 2010.
  23. "Article: Shanahan says he's not interested in Notre Dame position". HighBeam Research. December 10, 2004.
  24. "Jenna Bush Weds Henry Hager at President's Ranch". Fox News. May 11, 2008.
  25. "President Bush to play father of bride Saturday; Broncos' Shanahan to attend". 9 News Colorado. May 10, 2008.
  26. url=http://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/27/donald-trump-fundraiser-colorado-coors-shanahan/ Coors, Shanahan to host Donald Trump fundraiser in Colorado. June 27, 2016
  27. url=https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/10/04/mike-shanahan-says-donald-trump-brings-the-leadership-we-need-for-our-kids/ Mike Shanahan says Donald Trump brings the leadership we need 'for our kids'. October 4, 2016
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mike Shanahan.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Rod Dowhower
Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Chan Gailey
Preceded by
Chan Gailey
Denver Broncos Offensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
George Henshaw
Preceded by
Mike Holmgren
San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Marc Trestman
Awards and achievements
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