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Mike Shanahan is a highly effective NFL football coach who led John Elway and the Broncos to two consecutive Superbowl wins.
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Mike Shanahan was born on August 24, 1952 in Oak Hill, Illinois. A life-threatening injury turned him from playing college football to coaching. During his career, Shanahan has worked with the Los Angeles Raiders; the San Francisco 49ers; and the Denver Broncos. His 148 career wins rank him second among active NFL coaches and 17th in NFL history. He's currently with the Washington Redskins.
Mike Shanahan was born on August 24, 1952 in Oak Hill, Illinois and grew up in the neighboring villages of Franklin Park and Schiller Park, located in suburban Chicago not far from O'Hare Airport. His mother was a homemaker and his father worked as an electrician. Mike Shanahan developed a love of sports at a very young age. A multi-sport athlete from the time he could run and catch a ball, he played youth football, basketball and baseball. Even as a boy, Shanahan showed interest not only in playing sports, but in coaching as well. He recalls, "I was always influenced by my coaches when I was young. I wanted to coach from a young age. I don't know if it was fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, but I enjoyed that environment and I let my parents know that some day I would like to coach."
Shanahan attended East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, where he was a star quarterback on the football team as well as one of the top runners on the track team. During his senior year, he was voted East Leyden Athlete of the Year and was named MVP of both the football and track teams. "I was definitely an overachiever," Shanahan admits. Upon graduating from high school in 1970, he landed a full scholarship to play football at Eastern Illinois University, an NCAA Division II football program.
But Shanahan's time at Eastern Illinois was marred by tragedy and injury, both on the field and off. During his sophomore year, Shanahan and a friend were involved in a high-speed motorcycle crash that took his friend's life and left Shanahan with an injured ankle. The next year, during a spring football practice, he suffered a piercing hit to his side that split his kidney in half. For a terrifying few hours, it looked as if Shanahan might not survive the injury. A priest was summoned to read him his last rites, and his heart stopped beating for over 30 seconds. Miraculously, Shanahan made a full recovery, but he would never play football again. Always one to look on the bright side, Shanahan says, "It shut one door for playing and opened up another door for coaching, and so I started coaching a couple years earlier than I was planning on coaching. So maybe in a way it was a blessing."
No longer able to play football, Shanahan worked as an assistant to the Eastern Illinois coaching staff through the 1973 and 1974 seasons. Upon graduating in 1975, he managed to land a position as a graduate assistant to the football coaching staff at the University of Oklahoma, one of the country's premier college football programs. (In his first season at Oklahoma, the Sooners won the national championship.) "It was a great experience to me to get to the Division I level," Shanahan says.
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