Las Vegas, Nevada 2021-08-05 16:40:48 –
Tom Flores was cut by a Canadian team, joined a California minor league team, and was ready to pursue an educational career rather than football after failing to interact with Washington in the NFL.
AFL gave Flores their last chance when the fledgling league was launched in 1960 and Flores seized the opportunity.
He became the first quarterback of the Auckland Raiders before advancing to a pioneering career as a coach and executive, and after a long wait, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I was lucky,” Flores said. “I had three shots in it. In the third shot I said this new league has begun, and maybe I’ll give it another chance. I’ll give it to anyone I’m not borrowing money. I can work the rest of my life. That was 61 years ago and I’m still in that state. “
After several missed opportunities along the way, Flores was successful enough to reach his long-awaited goal of arriving at Hall in Canton, Ohio.
After so many close calls, Flores said he became wary of whether it would happen. But that all changed when President David Baker, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this year, gave him news.
“I don’t feel any better,” Flores said. “I had tears in my eyes, I have tears in my eyes just thinking about it now. It’s a lifelong achievement and it’s eternal. My feelings are that you’re in the Hall of Fame. When you make it, you don’t make a hall of fame, you and your family make a hall of fame, make your friends, your coach, and your players. We all go in together. It’s just a representative of a great group and a great game. “
Flores has joined the Hall of Fame Mike Ditoka as the only man in NFL history to win the Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach, and head coach.
But Flores’ biggest influence came in 1979 when Al Davis hired him as Auckland coach on behalf of John Madden. The son of a Mexican immigrant became one of the earliest minorities to become the head coach of the NFL. Fritz Pollard was the first black coach in the NFL in the 1920s, and before Flores the few other head coaches were Mexican-born Tom Fears. Tom Fears was a saint for four years.
Flores said when Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982, he felt accepted by a large number of Mexicans in Southern California and enjoyed his role in the community.
“When I first started, it wasn’t that big,” Flores said. “I never thought about it. I never thought I was hired for an ethnic background. I was hired because of what I could do on the field as a player and as a coach. I still feel that way. It doesn’t matter what color you are, you have to be ready to play, and you have to be able to win, otherwise You will lose your job in any color. Fortunately, I was fortunate enough to be well worth it and to win enough to establish myself. I am here now. “
Flores thrived after hiring Davis to take over the successful franchise that won the Super Bowl in the 1976 season when he was an assistant under John Madden. Flores led the transition from Hall of Fame Ken Stabler to Jim Plunkett in a quarterback and stabilized the Raiders during his 1982 move from Auckland to Los Angeles.
Flores won the Super Bowl in both cities, winning the Wildcard Raiders in the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1980 season and three years later against Washington in Los Angeles.
Flores was replaced by Mike Shanahan following the 1987 season, scoring a regular season record of 83-53 and a mark of 8-3 in the Raiders playoffs.
He then took over Seattle Seahawks as president and general manager in 1989, spending six seasons and head coaching in the last three seasons. His 14-34 record in those seasons left a career mark of 97-87 in the regular season, contributing to the delay in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
However, it did not mitigate the impact he had on other minority coaches, including the only other Hispanic coach who led the team to the Ron Rivera Super Bowl.
“When we talked to me about my Hispanic heritage, it was Tom Flores, (Raiders quarterback) Jim Plunkett, and (NFL quarterback) Roman Gabriel,” said Washington director Ron Rivera. Said in 2016. I respect and really aspire to be like them. “