Tom Flores

Tom Flores: Hall of Fame or Walk of Shame?

There have been many NFL Hall of Fame snubs for the Las Vegas Raiders but none more egregious than legendary head coach Tom Flores.

The Case for Canton

Flores is a four-time Super Bowl Champion. How is he not in? Sure, he had solid help through some accolades, but he did well on his own too, so why not? As the Raiders head coach, he had a respectable 83-53 win/loss record, which is a .610 winning percentage and was better than most of his counterparts in that era. When it came to the playoffs, his record was a respectable 8-3, a .727 winning percentage, second to only Vince Lombardi at the time who sat at 9-1, or .900.

The Player

As a quarterback, Flores mustered up just under 12,000 yards with 93 touchdowns to 92 interceptions and a 67.5 passer rating. An AFL All-Star for the Oakland Raiders, Flores started their inaugural season. His career ranged from the early to mid-1960s, and he won a Super Bowl trophy with the Kansas City Chiefs, in 1969, as a backup to Len Dawson.

The Assistant

After he retired from playing, Flores became an assistant head coach with the Buffalo Bills. From there, he assisted with the Raiders, winning another Super Bowl a wide receivers coach under John Madden in 1976.

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The Man

In 1979, Flores was elevated to head coach, becoming the first Latino to do so in NFL history. His first year they missed playoffs and traded Ken Stabler away to the Houston Oilers, then in 1980, his starting quarterback Dan Pastorini fractured his leg. Jim Plunkett came off the bench, leading the team to a wild card spot. A (4-0) run through the playoffs later, and Flores is hoisting his third Super Bowl trophy, but first as the man in charge. Also, that particular Raiders team was the first in NFL history to win it all as a wild card team.

Flores remained head coach for the move to Los Angeles in 1982 as well as steering the team through the player’s strike that same year, getting them to the playoffs as division champs and losing in round two. In 1983, Flores and back up quarterback Plunkett worked their magic all the way to a Super Bowl victory over the Washington Redskins. Flores’s fourth and last Super Bowl trophy, second as a head coach. The next few years he led Raiders to a couple more playoff appearances, but eventually got fired by Al Davis. Flores would go coach at Seattle, where he hurt his overall record, before returning to Raiders serving as play-by-play color commentator.


Reasons for Opposition

  • Flores started and did play decently for the Raiders, he was only an “All-Star” once in his six seasons. As a Chief, he was a backup and was the beneficiary of a solid all-around team. That first Super Bowl win, he had little to nothing to do with achieving it.
  • While he tutored and helped mentor a solid wide receiver corps, he was primarily the beneficiary of an excellent coaching staff built by John Madden and Al Davis in achieving his second Super Bowl ring.
  • “Those were Madden’s team Flores won with, anyone could have won with them”, or “Al ran that team, he was just a puppet” in regards to his third and fourth Super Bowl rings.
  • Flores was a Raider through and through, people will count that against him. He sided with Raiders over the NFL, and has been a lifelong member of Raider Nation. Flores was part of the Raiders television broadcast team as a color commentator for many years.

As much as we hate to see it, this is probably one of the biggest reasons he is not already in the Hall of Fame.

Final Verdict

The pros outweigh the cons here, Flores led the team through an inauguration and identity creation. He provided solid backup on the sidelines in achieving his first Super Bowl win in Kansas City. He provided quality personnel help in achieving his first Super Bowl win in Oakland. As the NFL’s first Latino head coach, he won a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback twice and was the first coach to run the table as a wild card team. He survived a players strike and still managed to lead his team to the playoffs. How is that not Hall of Fame worthy? Get the man his gold jacket.

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