One of his most bitter conflicts was with current Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who spent one season working as Raiders head coach before a dispute with Davis led to his ousting.
How bad was the blood between the two? Five years after the firing, Shanahan ordered one of his players to throw a ball at Davis' head during pregame warmups. Rick Maese of The Washington Post linked to a story written by The New York Times' Mike Freeman on Sept. 13, 1998 which included this tale:
It was 1994 and Shanahan and Grbac were both with the San Francisco 49ers. Shanahan, the offensive coordinator, was working with Grbac before a game against Oakland. [...]
[...] Davis, as he does before almost every game, was walking the field, talking to players and others. Shanahan pulled Grbac aside, Grbac recalled, and gave an unusual order: ''See Al Davis over there? I want you to throw the ball right at him.''
A shocked Grbac replied: ''I can't do that. If I hit him, do you know what he could do to me?''
Shanahan looked at Grbac with his intense glare and said, ''Throw the ball.''
So Grbac did. He threw a tight, hard spiral some 30 yards directly at the head of Davis. At the last second, Davis saw it and ducked, the ball missing him by only a few inches. Davis, his hair ruffled, then made an obscene gesture at Shanahan, witnessed by a former Raiders coach who confirmed Grbac's story.
I know, I had the same exact thought: Who knew Elvis Grbac could throw a tight, hard spiral 30 yards and barely miss his target by inches?
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- Oakland Raiders
- Mike Shanahan
- Al Davis
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