By Sunny Cadwallader
No, I’m not talking about the Houston Astros* or Alex Cora* (that’s another story in and of itself). Tom Flores has been denied the Hall of Fame. Again. And, I’m tired of writing and reading about it.
There are simply no more words to write that haven’t been written about Flores’ snub. As I wrote back in 2018, “When you talk about Oakland Raiders history, Tom Flores’ name is up there with Madden.”
- First Latino quarterback to start in pro football HISTORY (AFL’s Oakland team)
- Assistant coach for Super Bowl championship team in 1977
- First Latino head coach in the NFL
- First Latino coach or any coach of color to win the Super Bowl
- Coach of first Wild Card team to win Super Bowl in 1981
- Led team to another Super Bowl win in 1984
“Flores had big shoes to fill when he took over for John Madden and came through with 2 titles,” says Russell Baxter, longtime NFL/pro football writer and researcher. “He makes for an intriguing Hall of Fame candidate.”
Needless to say, the buzz on Twitter wasn’t about Flores NOT getting in. It was about which coaches did.
Conspiracy theory? I’m not one to ascribe to such things, but…
Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson were voted in this year.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Cowher and Johnson – two television guys – were voted in ahead of Tom Flores. Neither has the credentials or stats of Flores, but somehow the voters in their infinite wisdom thought better of Cowher and Johnson.
Absence, in Flores’ case, does not make the heart grow fonder with HOF voters.
This isn’t about Cowher and Johnson not deserving to be voted in. It’s about the lack of respect and awareness of what Tom Flores did for the game of pro football. He broke barriers as a Latino player, coach and GM.
Today’s football generation probably thinks of Tony Dungy as the first minority coach to win a Super Bowl. Before there was Dungy – who also is in the HOF, by the way – there was Flores.
Flores wasn’t flashy. He wasn’t one to crave the spotlight. He just went about his business and succeeded at the highest level. Like many of our family and ancestors before us, when Flores had a job to do, he put his head down and did it. That strong Latino work ethic would demand nothing less.
ESPN NFL Nation Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez has longed championed the Flores HOF cause and that of former Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett. Gutierrez tweeted out the names of the so-called “Blue Ribbon Committee” and summed up his reaction to the snub in one word.
So, what now?
Flores isn’t about to toot his own horn on social media or a network football show. As rabid as Raiders fans can be, HOF voters either aren’t reading the tweets and other social posts or aren’t taking the time to dig deep into Flores’ accomplishments.
I’m sure there are a few folks out there who think it’s a racial issue. I don’t and it’s not. I think it’s more of a case of the time we live in. In today’s digital age, voters have clearly shown it’s a what have you done for me lately process.