Mike Shanahan and Al Davis sparred publicly for years, but Shanahan praised Davis' devotion to the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders organization in remembering the late owner Monday.
"I never met a guy that had more passion and worked harder than Al Davis," Shanahan said of his former employer. "He was just relentless in his approach to the game. He had a great understanding of X's and O's and knowing personnel, and he worked extremely hard at it. I wasn't with him long - a year and four games - but I learned a lot from him."
Shanahan coached Davis' Raiders for the 1988 season and four games into 1989 before he was fired.
The aftermath was ugly. Shanahan claimed Davis owed him $250,000 remaining in his contract. Davis had not paid as recently as 2008, despite a ruling by an NFL arbiter that Shanahan was entitled to the money, according to a Denver Post report.
Shanahan said in 1997 that he'd forgive the debt if Davis donated the money and all interest to the Oakland Unified School District, the Denver Post reported. A Raiders spokesman that year insisted Shanahan perjured himself at the hearing.
Davis also believed that Denver circumvented the salary cap during Shanahan's Super Bowl championship seasons in 1997 and 1998. In 2004, the Broncos were fined $950,000 by the league and lost a third-round draft pick for violations involving deferred payments to players during the late 1990s.
"Shanahan has an asterisk next to those two Super Bowls, because they were caught cheating," Davis was quoted by the Associated Press as saying in 2008.
Running back Tim Hightower (left shoulder) insists he will play Sunday against Philadelphia.... Fullback Darrel Young (hamstring) "looked pretty good" in Monday's practice, Shanahan said. Receiver Anthony Armstrong won't test his ailing hamstring until Wednesday at the earliest.
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