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Mike Shanahan and Al Davis beefed for decades over money, control, and AFC West dominance

Before he was winning titles with Denver, Mike Shanahan was working for Al Davis - for a little bit.

The Al Davis people loved was known for putting winning football teams on the field and taking care of his Raider family. The Al Davis people hated was known for being a controlling, impatient owner who demanded unquestioned loyalty. And one coaching hire wound up putting both of his very different sides on display.

After the 1987 season, Tom Flores stepped down as Raiders Head Coach. With two Super Bowl victories as head coach and one as an assistant, Flores left behind huge shoes to fill. Davis decided to go outside the Raider organization for his next coach, something he had never done before. That search landed on rival Broncos offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan, who was coming off a Super Bowl appearance himself.

But Shanahan was never really given a fair shake. Davis put him on thin ice immediately and ultimately fired him before he had a chance to finish his second season. The story didn’t end there. The two fought over money for years to come and eventually it all came down to football. If debts can’t be paid in dollars, they must be paid in wins and losses. Once the meat was salted, this beef was cooked on the gridiron until it was well done.