CHARLESTON, S.C. (BVM) – Arthur ‘Art’ Shell is one of Charleston’s greatest athletes of all time. A member of the NFL 100 All-Time Team and the second African-American head coach in NFL history, the former offensive lineman made a career out of exceeding expectations.
Shell attended Bonds-Wilson High School in North Charleston where he was a dual-sport athlete in football and basketball. He was an all-star center and defensive tackle on the gridiron and an all-state center on the court. His athletic dominance at such a young age molded him into one of the greatest offensive lineman in professional football history.
Shell went on to study at Maryland State University where he majored in industrial arts education. As a Hawk, Shell continued to play both football and basketball and earned back-to-back All-American awards in 1966 and 1967. He also notched All-Conference honors three times and was later named to the Hawk Hall of Fame in 1989. A star lineman at Maryland, Shell was drafted into the American Football League by the Oakland Raiders in 1968.
It was with Oakland that Shell earned his first Super Bowl championship over the Minnesota Vikings in 1977. In that game, he was credited with a near-perfect performance and kept Vikings’ star defensive end, Jim Marshall, from recording any tackles. Shell won one more championship with the Raiders in their Super Bowl XV victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Shell’s 15-year playing career is the third-longest career of any Raider, tied with Jim Otto and Gene Upshaw. He appeared in eight Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in 1973, 74 and 77. Shell retired in 1983 and became an offensive line coach for the Raiders that same year.
His first head coaching opportunity came in 1989 with the Raiders. With this move, Shell became the first African-American head coach in the modern era of the NFL. That same year, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was ranked no. 55 on the Top 100 Greatest Football Players list of 1990.
Through his coaching career, Shell amassed a 54-38 record. He was named AFC Coach of the Year in 1990, the same year he led the Raiders to a 12-4 season and an AFC West division title. This feat made Shell the first African-American coach to lead a team to a conference championship game.
Shell coached the Raiders until 1994 when he was fired by then owner Al Davis.
He transitioned back to coach the offensive line for the Kansas City Chiefs (1995-96) and the Atlanta Falcons (1997-2000). Shell then served as the senior vice president for football operations and development in the NFL and was also on the board of directors for USA Football. He returned to coaching for the 2006-07 season for the Raiders before he officially retired.
Shell was named to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team in 2010 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013. Two years later, he became a member of the South Carolina Hall of Fame which brought his impressive football career full circle.
Shell’s distinguished career is still present today as the former NFL executive finds time to give back to the sport that raised him. Shell maintains an active presence at his alma mater, now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He routinely attends alumni events and is founder and sponsor of the Art Shell celebrity golf tournament. Shell has been a guest on the NFL Network and other similar programs, constantly asked to share a glimpse of his astounding insight and advice. He is available for corporate appearances, speaking engagements, meet and greets, endorsements and virtual events, all of which help him maintain a busy schedule. Most recently, Shell attended the 2020 Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony and presented former NFL commissioner and close friend, Paul Tagliabue, his award. With football and family on center stage, it seems Shell is set to live out his life surrounded by greatness.