Legendary Raiders coach Tom Flores participated in a conference call with media members on Thursday morning in preparation of his Aug. 8 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in which he looked back at his groundbreaking career.
Here are some highlights of his session:
What was it like coaching for Al Davis?
“It was memorable, arduous. It was an incredible journey with Al ... He was tough, demanding, he was fearless. You had to know him and I got to know him, pretty well. You had to know the good things and bad things and he had so many good things to offer.”
On following the dynamic John Madden as the Oakland Raiders’ coach:
“I was quiet, under control (off the field and on it). John was a far more emotional person and he was that way on the sideline. When I was hired, I told Al ‘I’m not John’ and he said “I know that. I hired you to win.’”
On being the first Mexican-American NFL head coach:
“I never thought about my ethnic background. It doesn’t matter what your color is, you have to be ready to perform and win or you’re going to be an unemployed whatever color person you are ... I was able to win and establish myself and now, here I am.”
On the definition of being a Raider:
“We were a pretty tight family. The Raider Nation is a family, a very powerful family. We believe in each other and like being the underdog and our orneriness. Little by little, it became our way of life.”
On winning the Super Bowl in 1980 season:
“It was tough because we were kind of in a rebuilding mode after trading away Kenny Stabler. We had a lot of older players and a lot of younger players. Guys like (Gene) Upshaw and (Art) Shell had one more good year in them and many veterans had a year or two left in the tank ... We resurrected Jim Plunkett and he made a lot of big plays and played like a champion.”
On his favorite players he coached:
“Jim Plunkett — because we had the same ethnic background, he was one of my favorites even before I coached him. Ted Hendricks, Cliff Branch, he was the first receiver I coached when I cam back. Marcus Allen, classy, great player. Mike Haynes. I can go on and on, Matt Millen. They were good players. good leaders, tough guys and great role models.”
On finally getting into the HOF:
“I was kind of expecting it sooner, but it didn’t happen and then I got skeptical and I got a little guarded ... When (HOF president David) Baker came to my house, I got tears in my eyes. I have tears in my eyes now just thinking about it. I said ‘Oh man, it happened.’ When you make the Hall of Fame, it’s not just you. It’s your family and your coaches and your players. We all made it together.”