After never making it past the semi-finals for Hall of Fame consideration, former Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Flores is finally a finalist. Many would argue that it is a long time coming for the two-time Super Bowl winning coach to get in. Flores became the first minority head coach in the NFL after taking over the reins for the legendary John Madden. He went on to have a very successful career with the Silver and Black, winning titles during their time in Oakland and Los Angeles. It is time for him to finally secure his spot in Canton.
A History of Firsts
Flores made a career out of firsts. As a quarterback for the Raiders in 1960, Flores became the first Latino player to start an NFL game at quarterback. He was an assistant under Madden when the Raiders won their first Super Bowl against the Minnesota Vikings during the 1976 season. Later, he would get his crowning achievement, winning his first Super Bowl as head coach of the Raiders in the 1980 season. This gives him the honor of being the first minority head coach in the NFL to win a Super Bowl. It also made the Raiders the first Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl.
A lesser known fact about Flores is that before his championships with the Raiders, he actually got his first Super Bowl ring as the backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs in his final NFL season in 1969. This also gives him the honor of being the first person to get a Super Bowl ring as a player, assistant, and head coach. Flores then took his team back to the promised land back in 1983, the Raiders second year in Los Angeles. Although insignificant, it also makes him the only coach to win a Super Bowl with the same team in two different cities.
More Credentials Than Others in the Hall of Fame
Beyond just his many firsts in the league, Flores has better credentials than any other head coaches who already have their busts in Canton. Most recently, Tony Dungy was elected into the Hall of Fame. Dungy broke ground by being the first black head coach of the modern era elected into the Hall of Fame. Not to take anything away from Dungy, as his place in history is undeniable, but, if he is qualified to get in, so should Flores. Dungy has one Super Bowl title as head coach to Flores’ two.
Going simply by Super Bowl wins, Flores has more than many others in The Hall as well. Bud Grant, former head coach for the Minnesota Vikings never won the big game. In fact, his Vikings were beaten by Madden’s Raiders with Flores on the staff. Mark Levy is also in the Hall of Fame. He is most known for making four straight Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills. However, Buffalo lost all four of those games In addition, Don Shula may be the winningest coach in NFL history, but Flores went 6-0 against Shula in his career.
What is Keeping Him Out?
Stats are important for many Hall of Fame voters. They may even be weighed more heavily for someone like Flores, who has been out of the NFL for over 20 years. For his head coaching career, Flores only boasts a 97-87 record. This is only a 52 percent win percentage, but that doesn’t really tell the entire story. In his first eight seasons as head coach, Flores only had one losing record and only two in his entire tenure as the coach of the Raiders.
He sat out football for five years before coming back for three unsuccessful seasons as coach of the Seattle Seahawks. In Seattle, he managed only a 14-34 record, which severely skews his overall win percentage. Looking at only his time with the Raiders, he won 61 percent of his games. (Compare that to Buffalo’s Levy, who only won 56 percent of his games). He also has a very good 8-3 record in the postseason to go with his two Super Bowl wins. If voters were to overlook his time with Seattle, he may have a much better shot at getting their votes.
Last Word on Tom Flores Being Long Overdue for the Hall of Fame
Tom Flores was a man who broke barriers in the NFL as a player, assistant, and head coach. He was the first Latino to start at the game’s most important position, quarterback. Then, he became the first minority head coach to win the Super Bowl. Flores brought the Raiders to the promised land both in Oakland and in Los Angeles. With many other head coaches getting in with far fewer credentials, it is simply a travesty that Flores still hasn’t gotten into the Hall of Fame yet.
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