After starting the 1989 season with a 1–3 record, Mike Shanahan was fired by Al Davis, which began a long-standing feud between the two. He was replaced by former Raiders offensive lineman Art Shell, who had been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier in the year. With the hiring, Shell became the first African American head coach in the modern NFL era, but the team still finished a middling 8-8.
In 1990, Shell led Raiders to a 12–4 record. They beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs, but Bo Jackson had his left femur ripped from the socket after a tackle. Without him, the Raiders were crushed in the AFC Championship by the Buffalo Bills. Jackson was forced to quit football as a result, although surgery allowed him to continue playing baseball until he retired in 1994.