"The weight—everyone always wanted to know what he really weighed," says Al LoCasale, the Raiders' second in command. "In 1977 we went to Hawaii for the Super Teams competition. Everyone had to weigh in for the tug-of-war, which had a 1,500-pound-per-team weight limit. When Art stepped on the scale, Gene Upshaw started yelling, 'Don't let Lokie [LoCasale] see it!'
"The weigh-in was on the porch at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and I ran around to an upstairs balcony and hung over the side, with my wife holding on to my legs, just to see what the scale said. It said 318."
They talk about Shell's presence on the field, his aura of command. The Big Brahma, scowling, with his arms folded, is not to be messed with. They talk about his feel for his players, and that's a nice angle. But is it really enough to succeed in the complex world of big league coaching?
"The first thing I felt I had to do was restore that old-time Raider feeling," Shell says. "Many of our winning ways came from the feeling we had for each other, the way we cared so much about each other. There was a lot of heart on those teams.
"Ever since I was in high school I've wanted to be a coach. I felt I learned something from every coach I played for. I watched and listened and learned. My high school coach [in North Charleston, S.C.], James Fields, taught me that you could be tough with your players but still get them to do what you wanted them to do. My college coach [at Maryland State], Roosevelt Gilliam, taught me organization. John Madden in Oakland taught me that you always have to listen to the players, to find out how they're approaching the game and what's bothering them. He also taught me to do away with some of the silly rules that have nothing to do with winning or losing. His only rule was to be on time.
"I want to be known as a coach who listens to his players, but doesn't take any bull, either."
Schroeder the Raider and Uncle Art. It didn't hurt Schroeder's chances to regain the starting quarterback job that the competition, Steve Beuerlein, the man who had beaten him out in 1989, was having contract difficulties of a different kind in the preseason. A fourth-round draft choice in '87, Beuerlein was coming off a modest three-year deal. He had made $140,000 in '89. He was ready for something serious. The Raiders said, "Do something first."
The sides were deadlocked, and Schroeder was taking the varsity snaps in camp. In the locker room, a cynical rumor started making the rounds. The team was said to be deliberately lowballing Beuerlein so Schroeder could breathe easier in camp, with no one pressing him for his job. "That's the most ridiculous damn story I ever heard," says Davis, who finally came to terms with Beuerlein on Sept. 3.
Maybe Davis is right, because he has been talking to the New Orleans Saints about their unsigned quarterback, Bobby Hebert. If that doesn't put pressure on Schroeder, what does? "I know they're talking about Hebert," says Schroeder, "but as long as we keep winning and as long as I keep playing as well as I can, I'm not worried."
Schroeder has learned to do what he is told, which is why we saw the kind of game from him on Sunday that we did. It was a strange, un-Schroeder, un-Raiderlike game indeed. Los Angeles played trick-'em football. The Raiders went no-huddle; they used an unbalanced line, putting two tackles on the same side; they dinked the ball underneath the Steelers' two-deep zone, canning the long passing game almost entirely.