It’s been about 35 years since Tom Flores paced the sideline for the Raiders, but his legacy never left the organization. Flores has been a part of all three of the Silver and Black’s Super Bowl victories, one as an assistant coach and two as the main man in charge. Yet somehow he was passed up by the Hall of Fame committee year after year.
NFL Network’s Rich Eisen even brought up on the broadcast how Raider fans would constantly ask him why the NFL’s first minority coach to hoist the Lombardi Trophy didn’t have a gold jacket? Eisen said he never had a good answer.
Well, it might have taken way too much time, but the questions can finally come to a halt.
Flores’ induction started with a video that was narrated by Carol Davis, the widow of iconic Raiders owner Al Davis. The video showed clips of when Flores first took the head coaching job and quoted him stating: “I was going to do things my way. I wasn’t a big yeller and screamer.” Traits we would consider of a true “players coach” nowadays.
The montage would go on to share sentiments from other people throughout the organization on how great of a person Flores was and still is.
When the video was over, he and current Raiders owner Mark Davis revealed the coach’s bust, which perfectly displayed Flores’ iconic 80s style comb-over. Then, as the telecast mentioned he’ll likely be the last original AFL member to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Flores’ speech began.
He started with a couple of jokes. One about being the second person in the Hall of Fame class to speak because he’s 84-years-old and needs to get to bed, and another about how long it took him to get inducted.
Flores talked about his father immigrating from Mexico to the Central Valley of California. He spoke of humble beginnings, how his parents stressed education and how he loved school. In fact, the coach received an academic scholarship at the University of Pacific back in the late 1950s.
However, after failing to get his masters, Flores received a call from the Raiders and decided to give professional football a try. The problem was, professional football wasn’t popular at the time so Flores’ mother was worried about his future in the sport. Little did she know her son would go on to be a historic figure for the game, to the point where you can’t tell the history of the NFL without including him in the story.
The coach would go on to give his thanks. He mentioned his high school coaches and other Raiders legends such as Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen and Ron Wolf. To Plunket, Flores said: “Feels like you’re going in with me.” Similar to Flores, Plunkett was the first minority quarterback to win a Super Bowl and is the subject of many “Hall of Fame worthy” debates.
As many enshrinees do, Flores would go on to thank his wife and children for being his biggest supporters throughout his career, and for having the patience to deal with a father who is an NFL head coach. You could tell his family was overcome with emotions that have been festering for years as the camera panned to them in the crowd.
The Hall of Famer would go on to thank the organization for all of its support, stating: “Raider Nation is everywhere.” He also expressed how grateful he is to have spent 55 years with the Raiders because he’s met no better group of people and can’t imagine a better place to call a second home. Current owner Marc Davis even got a shoutout as Flores joked about Davis “creating havoc” as an eight-year-old by stealing one of the team’s two balls they had to practice with.
The coach wrapped things up with a short story from the sidelines of his first Super Bowl victory. Another staff member, also from the Central Valley, came up to Flores toward the end of the game and said: “Not bad for a couple of grape pickers.”
Yes, Tom, not bad, not bad at all.