Why Hall-of-Fame candidate Tom Flores has never given up on reaching Canton
(EDITOR'S NOTE: To access the Tom Flores interview go to 24:54 of the attached audio)
If the Pro Football Hall of Fame measures coaches by their jewelry why aren't any of the individuals who each won two Super Bowls in Canton?
It's a good question. And it's one that will be debated next month when the Hall's board of selectors debates the candidacy of one of those five -- Tom Flores, who won two Super Bowls with the Raiders and is one of 15 finalists for the Hall's Class of 2019. .
At 81, Flores makes his first appearance as a candidate, and if that seems unusual get this: He hadn’t even been a semifinalist before the latest vote. But now, 48 years after retiring as a player and 24 years after coaching, the name of Tom Flores finally will be discussed by the Hall’s 48 voters.
Flores is one of two coaches on the ballot, joining Don Coryell, but Coryell has been here before. In fact, he’s been a finalist four of the past five years and made it to the Top 10 in 2016 before falling short. But this is unknown territory for Flores, one of five first-time finalists this year.
“I had never given up hope,” he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “but I wasn’t too excited about the possibility. Because there are various categories I fit in (player, coach, senior), and I didn’t know where I fit in in the whole picture.
“It’s not easy to get this far. There are so many guys that are worthy and so many names that are thrown out there. So many people are coming from all different directions and plugging for their guys. The system is complicated.
“Basically it’s pretty simple when you think of the bottom line: Do they deserve to be there? Are they a part of history? And things of that type.”
Flores was a part of history, and, yes, he deserves to be there. He was the first Hispanic quarterback to win a Super Bowl ring (as a backup in Kansas City). He was the first Hispanic coach to win a Super Bowl (with the Raiders). In fact, he won two. And he won another ring as an assistant coach (again, with the Raiders).
Plus, of coaches with 10 or more playoff appearances, he has the second-best postseason percentage in NFL history. The only one better? Vince Lombardi. So why has it taken him so long to get this far?
“That’s a good question,” said Flores. “I don’t know. A lot of little things that some people don’t take into consideration. You know, I won two Super bowls as a head coach in two different cities – in Oakland then in L.A. – living in a hotel room for 14 months and also working for Al Davis. That in itself deserves some consideration.”