Mike Shanahan feels Lane Kiffin's pain - or is it relief?
Like Kiffin, who was jettisoned by the Oakland Raiders this week, Shanahan was fired by Al Davis four games into the 1989 season with a pledge by the enigmatic owner not to pay him what was left on his contract.
"I was a little disappointed, to be honest with you. When you take a look at it, I was there 582 days. Lane Kiffin was there 616 days. So, what it really means is that Al Davis liked Lane more than he liked me," Shanahan joked during his weekly news conference Wednesday.
"I really don't think it's fair. I won three more games, yet he got 34 more days of work. That just doesn't seem right."
Did Shanahan, whose feud with Davis simmers each time the Denver Broncos play their AFC West archrival, really count the days both men were in Oakland?
"I knew how many days I was there. I just wasn't sure how long Lane was there," Shanahan said. "And then I found out after that press conference that Al really liked Lane more than me because he lasted 34 more days. That's 34 more days of pay, you think about that? And I had three more wins than him. That doesn't seem right, does it?"
Asked if he was sure Kiffin got paid for those 34 extra days, Shanahan laughed.
"No, I can't guarantee that," he said, chuckling.
Shanahan and Davis have long fought over the $250,000 the coach contends he was owed when he was dismissed, and Davis' refusal to pay up, or to donate the money to Oakland's public schools as Shanahan later requested, has added plenty of spice to the bitter rivalry between two of the original AFL franchises.
The Raiders said Kiffin (5-15) was fired for cause, meaning they will not pay him for the remainder of the three-year deal worth about $6 million he signed when he took over in January 2007.
Does Shanahan have any advice for Kiffin on getting his money, a reporter asked, drawing laughs from his fellow journalists but not from Shanahan.
"I think I've addressed that enough right now," he said. "Let's talk about Tampa."
Shanahan also didn't want to respond to Davis' latest jab.
After his news conference to explain his firing of Kiffin, Davis was asked about coaches he's fired who have had subsequent success with other teams, including Shanahan, who went 8-12 in Oakland in 1988-89 but won Super Bowl titles in 1997 and '98 with the Broncos.
"Shanahan has an asterisk next to those two Super Bowls, because they were caught cheating," Davis said, referring to a salary cap violation.
"I don't think I have to go down that road anymore," Shanahan said.