Remember Elway had a Dan Marino type reputation as the guy who could never win the big one until Shanahan turned it around. Shanahan learned under the master Bill Walsh in San Francisco and he remains one of the best offensive minds in the NFL.
Owner Pat Bowlen couldn't wait to say goodbye to his fellow Irishman but that was before his replacement, wunderkind Josh McDaniels blew a 6-0 start to the season to end up 8-8, exactly where Shanahan was last year.
The big problem is not that Mike Shanahan knows coaching - one look into those intense eyes when he is on the sideline and you know he can win - but can he get on with little egomaniac Daniel Snyder who runs the Redskins like his little fiefdom.
Six coaches in ten years, legends like Joe Gibbs, and fine coaches like Marty Schottenheimer and college kingpins like Steve Spurrier could not make it with Snyder. Each was hailed as the next coming of Vince Lombardi and summarily dumped.
His latest firing, Jim Zorn looked dazed and confused on the sideline during most of the season. Don't blame him though, because Snyder the owner is one of the hardest men in football to deal with.