|Born:||August 24, 1952|
Oak Park, Illinois
|High school:||Franklin Park (IL) East Leyden|
|As a coach:|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Head coaching record|
|Regular season:||170–138 (.552)|
|Coaching stats at PFR|
Michael Edward Shanahan (born August 24, 1952) is a former American football coach, best known as the head coach of the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL) from 1995 to 2008. During his fourteen seasons with the Broncos, he led the team to two consecutive Super Bowl victories in XXXII and XXXIII, including the franchise's first NFL title in the former. His head coaching career spanned a total of twenty seasons and also included stints with the Los Angeles Raiders and Washington Redskins. He is the father of San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Shanahan played high school football at East Leyden High School, Franklin Park, Illinois, where he played wishbone quarterback for coach Jack Leese's 1968 and 1969 Eagles teams. Shanahan 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 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.
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.
Assistant coaching stints
Shanahan first served as a receivers coach and later offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos under Dan Reeves from 1984 to 1987. This firmly places Mike Shanahan on the Tom Landry tree of coaching, as Dan Reeves was one of Landry's greatest disciples. 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 four games into the 1989 season, Shanahan returned to the Broncos as quarterbacks coach on October 16, 1989. He was fired a couple years later by Reeves after finding himself in the middle of a growing feud between Reeves and quarterback John Elway.
Los Angeles Raiders
Shanahan was hired by the Los Angeles 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. 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 quarterback Elvis Grbac throw a football at Davis' head, which missed by a few inches as Davis was able to dodge it just in time; afterwards Davis responded with an obscene gesture.
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 and 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 during Shanahan's tenure.
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.
After Elway's retirement and Davis' career-ending injuries, Shanahan went six years without a playoff win (including three seasons when the Broncos failed to qualify for the postseason), a drought which caused criticism from fans. The playoff drought ended during the 2005–06 postseason 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. The victory, however, would be Shanahan's last playoff win as a head coach.
Shanahan was fired after the 2008 NFL season following a collapse that caused the Broncos to miss the playoffs for a third consecutive year. Although the Broncos held an 8–5 record by Week 14 and would have won the AFC West with one more victory, the team lost their remaining three games and the 8–8 San Diego Chargers won the division on a tiebreaker.
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. 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.
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. Shanahan was signed to a five-year, $35 million contract. 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. This model is similar to how Belichick and Scott Pioli worked during their eight years in New England.
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 24–14, during which his quarterback Robert Griffin III sustained a tear of his LCL and a damaged ACL to his previously injured knee. Shanahan came under criticism for his handling of the injury, both in bringing Griffin back to play after the initial injury on December 9 and keeping him in the game against the Seahawks after reinjuring the knee. 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.
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. 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.
Potential return to coaching
Shanahan has not held a coaching position since his dismissal from the Washington Redskins in 2013. In 2015, he was interviewed by the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears for their vacant head coaching spots, as well as the Oakland Raiders, whom he previously coached from 1988–1989, when the club was based in Los Angeles. Shanahan was also interviewed for the vacant head coaching spot by the San Francisco 49ers in 2015, whom Shanahan previously served as their offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach from 1992–1994 and was part of the 1994 team that won Super Bowl XXIX. Coincidentally, the 49ers would hire his son, Kyle Shanahan as their head coach 2 years later. In 2016, Shanahan was nearly hired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins before they hired Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase for the vacant spot on January 9, 2016. On August 17, 2019, it was revealed that the Denver Broncos, whom Shanahan previously coached from 1995–2008, nearly re-hired him as head coach in 2018 before their decision to retain Vance Joseph on January 1, 2018.
Head coaching record
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|LAR||1988||7||9||0||.438||3rd in AFC West||–||–||–||–|
|LAR||1989||1||3||0||.250||3rd in AFC West||–||–||–||–|
|DEN||1995||8||8||0||.500||3rd in AFC West||–||–||–||–|
|DEN||1996||13||3||0||.813||1st in AFC West||0||1||.000||Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Divisional Game|
|DEN||1997||12||4||0||.750||2nd in AFC West||4||0||1.000||Super Bowl XXXII champions|
|DEN||1998||14||2||0||.875||1st in AFC West||3||0||1.000||Super Bowl XXXIII champions|
|DEN||1999||6||10||0||.375||5th in AFC West||–||–||–||–|
|DEN||2000||11||5||0||.688||2nd in AFC West||0||1||.000||Lost to Baltimore Ravens in AFC wild card game|
|DEN||2001||8||8||0||.500||3rd in AFC West||–||–||–||–|
|DEN||2002||9||7||0||.563||2nd in AFC West||–||–||–||–|
|DEN||2003||10||6||0||.625||2nd in AFC West||0||1||.000||Lost to Indianapolis Colts in AFC Wild Card Game|
|DEN||2004||10||6||0||.625||2nd in AFC West||0||1||.000||Lost to Indianapolis Colts in AFC Wild Card Game|
|DEN||2005||13||3||0||.813||1st in AFC West||1||1||.500||Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game|
|DEN||2006||9||7||0||.563||3rd in AFC West||–||–||–||–|
|DEN||2007||7||9||0||.438||2nd in AFC West||–||–||–||–|
|DEN||2008||8||8||0||.500||2nd in AFC West||–||–||–||–|
|WAS||2010||6||10||0||.375||4th in NFC East||–||–||–||–|
|WAS||2011||5||11||0||.313||4th in NFC East||–||–||–||–|
|WAS||2012||10||6||0||.625||1st in NFC East||0||1||.000||Lost to Seattle Seahawks in NFC Wild Card Game|
|WAS||2013||3||13||0||.188||4th in NFC East||–||–||–||–|
- Posted the most wins in National Football League history during a three-year period at the time (46 in 1996–98).
- Won the most postseason games in history over a two-year period (seven, 1997–98).
- Been undefeated and untied for three consecutive regular seasons (1996–98) at home, just the second team ever to be undefeated and untied at home in three consecutive years. The Miami Dolphins posted three consecutive seasons of untied undefeated home records from 1972 to 1974. Including playoff games, the Dolphins had won 31 consecutive home games from 1971 to 1974. Oddly enough, in 1999 on the opening Monday Night Football game, the Dolphins ended the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos streak with a 38–21 win in Denver.
- In 2004, he joined the exclusive club of head coaches to post 100 wins in his first 10 seasons with one club, finishing the campaign and decade tied for fourth on this list of 12 coaches, six of whom are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- Joins Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Jimmy Johnson, and Bill Belichick as the only six coaches to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
- He is the second coach in history to win two Super Bowl titles in his first four years coaching a team (Shula did it first with the Miami Dolphins in 1972 and 1973).
- Highest winning percentage in Denver history (.646) and most wins in Denver history (138).
- Shanahan is among eleven coaches in pro football history to post four wins in one postseason along with Tom Flores, Joe Gibbs, Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Tom Coughlin (twice), Mike McCarthy, John Harbaugh, Bruce Arians, and most recently, Sean McVay.
- The all-time high of 636 points in a season came from the 1994 Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers, for whom Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. This was eclipsed during the 2007 season when the New England Patriots scored 589 points in the regular season and 66 points in the postseason for a total of 655 points. Ironically, that record was again broken in the 2013–2014 season when Shanahan's former team, the Denver Broncos, scored 606 points in the regular season and 58 in the postseason for a total of 664 points.
- During his NFL career, Shanahan has been a part of teams that have played in 10 Conference Championship Games, in addition to his five Super Bowl appearances, Super Bowl XXI, Super Bowl XXII, Super Bowl XXXII, and Super Bowl XXXIII with Denver and Super Bowl XXIX with San Francisco.
Shanahan has worked under six head coaches:
- Barry Switzer, Oklahoma (1975)
- Joe Salem, Northern Arizona (1976–1977), Minnesota (1979)
- Darrell Mudra, Eastern Illinois (1978)
- Charley Pell, Florida (1980–1983)
- Dan Reeves, Denver Broncos (1984–1987, 1990–1991)
- George Seifert, San Francisco 49ers (1992–1994)
Fifteen of Shanahan's assistant coaches became head coaches in the NFL or NCAA:
- Art Shell, Los Angeles Raiders (1989–1994), Oakland Raiders (2006)
- Karl Dorrell, UCLA (2003–2007), Colorado (2020–present)
- J. D. Brookhart, Akron (2004–2009)
- Greg Robinson, Syracuse (2005–2008)
- Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans (2006–2013), Denver Broncos (2015–2016)
- Tim Brewster, Minnesota (2007–2010)
- Troy Calhoun, Air Force (2007–present)
- Jon Embree, Colorado (2011–2012)
- Anthony Lynn, Buffalo Bills (2016, interim), Los Angeles Chargers (2017–2020)
- Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams (2017–present)
- Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers (2017–present)
- Jedd Fisch, UCLA (2017, interim), Arizona (2021–present)
- Charlie Jackson, Kentucky State (2019–2021)
- Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers (2019–present)
- Lou Spanos, UConn (2021, interim)
- Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins (2022-present) 
Two of Shanahan's former players became head coaches in the NFL or NCAA:
- Anthony Lynn, Buffalo Bills (2016, interim), Los Angeles Chargers (2017–2020)
- Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech (2013–2018), Arizona Cardinals (2019–present)
Five of Shanahan's executives/former players became general managers in the NFL:
- Rick Smith, Houston Texans (2006–2017)
- John Elway, Denver Broncos (2011–2020)
- Reggie McKenzie, Oakland Raiders (2012–2018)
- Dave Gettleman, Carolina Panthers (2013–2017), New York Giants (2018–2021)
- John Lynch, San Francisco 49ers (2017–present)
Shanahan is a Catholic. He and his wife, Peggy, have two children — a son, Kyle, the current San Francisco 49ers’ head coach, and a daughter, Krystal. Shanahan is also a Brother in the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity.
In October 2021, Shanahan sold his mansion in Cherry Hills Village for a record $15.7M.
- Lombardi, David. "A conversation with Mike Shanahan: The coach discusses his 49ers history, his son Kyle's development, and more". theathletic.com. The Athletic Media Company. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
- Fatsis, Stefan (July 1, 2008). "Inside the Mind of Mike Shanahan". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012.
- Jenkins, Sally (August 23, 2010). "Albert Haynesworth has failed every test issued by Mike Shanahan". The Washington Post.
- "Foley in Denver to meet with Shanahan". espn.com. ESPN, Inc. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
- "Mike Shanahan's return to Broncos during 1989 season did not cause controversy". January 9, 2012.
- Freeman, Mike (January 24, 1999). "SUPER BOWL XXXIII: A Rivalry Beyond the Game; Rift Makes Reeves and Shanahan More Competitive". New York Times.
- Heisler, Mark (October 5, 1989). "COMMENTARY : Shanahan Wasn't a Stroke of Genius". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
- Lieber, Jill (October 23, 1989). "Dreams Do Come True". Sports Illustrated.
- George, Thomas (November 18, 1998). "ON PRO FOOTBALL; Shanahan Wants to Be the Perfect Coach". The New York Times. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
- "Mike Shanahan Record". pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
- Beals, Cody. "Extra, Extra, Mike Shanahan Is an Offensive Genius!". bleacherreport.com. Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
- 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.
- "Denver Broncos Coaches". pro-football-reference.com. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- "Denver Broncos Yearly Rushing Leaders". footballdb.com. The Football Database, LLC. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
- Think Like A Champion: Building Success One Victory at a Time. HarperCollins. 2000.
- "Mike Shanahan". pro-football-reference.com. SportsReference, LLc. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
- Breech, John. "Tom Brady has an ugly record in Denver, here's how bad it is". cbssports.com. CBS Broadcasting Inc. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
- "Broncos fire Shanahan after 14 seasons as head coach". ESPN.com. December 31, 2008.
- McIntyre, Jason. "In the Last Decade, Starting 0-2 Has Been an NFL Death Sentence". thebiglead.com. Minute Media. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
- "Sources: Mike Shanahan Turned Down Redskins Coaching Job". NFL Fanhouse. October 19, 2009.
- "Sources: Bills contact Shanahan". ESPN.com. November 29, 2009.
- "Redskins sign Shanahan to 5-year deal". January 6, 2010. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
- "Shanahan to receive five-year deal with Redskins". Retrieved January 6, 2010.
- Maese, Rick "Redskins owner Dan Snyder concedes the stage to Mike Shanahan", The Washington Post, January 7, 2010
- "Kyle Shanahan: Offensive Coordinator". Washington Redskins. Archived from the original on December 14, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
- 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.
- Maske, Mark " Redskins weighing possible contract extension for Mike Shanahan", The Washington Post, December 31, 2012
- Shanahan dismisses report he wanted out. Usatoday.com (December 8, 2013). Retrieved on December 30, 2013.
- Starkey, JP (January 9, 2013) RGIII injury update: ACL surgery completed for Redskins QB. SBNation.com.
- Mike Shanahan’s fear of playing Robert Griffin III in preseason leaves him at odds with star QB. NY Daily News. August 17, 2013.
- Shanahan confirms RG3 will start Week 1. Fox News (September 3, 2013). Retrieved on December 30, 2013.
- Wesseling, Chris. "Mike Shanahan fired as Washington Redskins coach". nfl.com. National Football League. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
- "Source: Bills setting up interview with Mike Shanahan". ESPN. January 3, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
- "Bears expected to interview Mike Shanahan for HC". NFL. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- "Mike Shanahan interviewed with Oakland Raiders". NFL. January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
- "Mike Shanahan interviewed with San Francisco 49ers". NFL. January 2, 2015. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
- "Mike Shanahan to have second interview with Dolphins". ABC News. January 4, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
- "Mike Shanahan says he was close to re-joining Broncos as head coach in 2018". CBS Sports. August 17, 2019. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
- Mike Shanahan Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks. Pro-Football-Reference.com (August 24, 1952). Retrieved on December 30, 2013.
- Mike Shanahan Background – DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG Archived December 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Myfoxdc.com. Retrieved on December 30, 2013.
- Boyd, Jimmy. "Super Bowl Winning & Losing NFL Head Coaches with Most Appearances". boydsbets.com. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
- "PRO FOOTBALL; Shanahan Leaving San Francisco To Become Head Coach in Denver". The New York Times. February 1995. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- "LOCAL : Raiders Fire Shanahan, Appoint Shell as Coach". Los Angeles Times. October 3, 1989. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- Hartman, Sid. "Mike Shanahan lauds Gary Kubiak in new role with Vikings". startribune.com. StarTribune. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- Williams, Eric D. (September 28, 2018). "Kyle Shanahan was the ball boy when Anthony Lynn played for Broncos". espn.com. ESPN, Inc. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- Jones, Mike. "Opinion: Mike Shanahan's blueprint paving way for Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan, Matt LaFleur". usatoday.com. Gannett. Retrieved December 15, 2019.
- "Mike Shanahan Background". My Fox DC. January 4, 2010. Archived from the original on September 8, 2010.
- "Article: Shanahan says he's not interested in Notre Dame position". HighBeam Research. December 10, 2004.[dead link]
- "Mike Shanahan is having a pretty proud Father's Day". June 18, 2017.
- "Jenna Bush Weds Henry Hager at President's Ranch". Fox News. May 11, 2008.
- "President Bush to play father of bride Saturday; Broncos' Shanahan to attend". 9 News Colorado. May 10, 2008. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012.
- Coors, Shanahan to host Donald Trump fundraiser in Colorado. June 27, 2016
- Mike Shanahan says Donald Trump brings the leadership we need 'for our kids'. October 4, 2016
- "Mike Shanahan sells his mansion in Cherry Hills Village for record $15.7M". BusinessDen. October 26, 2021. Retrieved March 1, 2022.