The NFL Hall of Fame rarely gets it right and this is especially true when it comes to honoring Raiders legends. Right now, they have a chance to pay homage to two all-time greats.
By now, Raider Nation is all too familiar with the slights the Hall of Fame is guilty of. Most recently, Ken “The Snake” Stabler, who is arguably the greatest signal caller the to ever put on the Silver and Black. Sorry Derek Carr fans but that’s a fact. The next biggest slight was Cliff Branch, one of the greatest wide receiver of the 1970’s. The “fastest man alive,” as Howie Long so eloquently put it recently.
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Along with Branch, the other shameful snub is former head coach Tom Flores. John Madden is often dubbed the number one coach in Raiders history and rightfully so, but Flores makes a strong case for one-point-five. As I wrote nearly two years ago, I echo the same sentiment when he did not make it as a semifinalist.
Besides John Madden, Flores is the second coach that’s become integrated into the mystique of the Silver and Black. A two-time Super Bowl champion, Flores’s record with the Raiders organization remains one of the best in the team’s history at 83-53. In spite of such accolades, however, the coach did not make it to the list of semifinalists.
Two Super Bowl victories while coaching some of the greatest (and most difficult) Raiders players in history is no small feat, two Lombardi trophies should’ve punched Flores’ ticket a long time ago.
Numbers Don’t Lie
The hardware and numbers validate the case for Flores, however the same holds true for Branch. Here’s a stat line: 67 career touchdowns, 8,685 career receiving yards, and 501 total receptions. Oh, and a three time All Pro as well as a four time Pro Browler to boot.
The saddest part of this snub is that if Branch is finally honored, it will be done posthumously. A real shame and something that should not become a recurring theme which leads me to Flores.
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His legacy as Raiders coach deserves the merit but let’s not forget the cultural and ethnic impact he had due to his Hispanic roots. Coach should be able to enjoy his moment before it’s too late.
Don’t screw this up NFL.