Mike Shanahan was sacked on Tuesday as coach of the Denver Broncos, a team he guided to two Super Bowl titles and built into a perennial contender in the NFL.
The move came two days after Denver completed a late-season collapse that saw them lose their final three games to hand the AFC West division title to the San Diego Chargers.
Denver had a three-game lead over San Diego in the AFC West with three games to play.
The two teams met in their final game of the regular season on Sunday, when San Diego triumphed.
“After giving this careful consideration, I have concluded that a change in our football operations is in the best interest of the Denver Broncos,” owner Pat Bowlen said. “This is certainly a difficult decision, but one that I feel must be made and which will ultimately be in the best interest of all concerned.”
“I appreciate the 21 years that Mike Shanahan has given to the organization as an assistant and head coach, and the two Super Bowl wins in that time. His contributions hold a special place in Broncos history,” he said.
This season marked the third straight campaign that the Broncos missed the playoffs.
Shanahan compiled a 138-86 regular-season record and 8-5 playoff record with the Broncos, guiding them to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
Overall, he led the Broncos to seven playoff appearances and three division titles.
Considered one of the best offensive minds in football, Shanahan enjoyed most of his success with the Broncos in the 1990s.
The Broncos ranked 30th in the league in scoring defense and allowed 448 points.