The Pro Football Hall of Fame doesn’t have the greatest of track records when it comes to the Oakland/Los Angeles/Las Vegas Raiders. However, they finally got it right with the induction of Tom Flores.
Historically speaking, the Raiders are one of the most important franchises in NFL history. Within that history was the success of Flores, a head coach of Mexican descent by way of Sanger, California. His successes were numerous, he won Super Bowls as an assistant coach, head coach, and player. A true legend in Raiders’ lore that thankfully had his moment in Canton before it was too late.
The relationship between the Raiders and the NFL has been contentious at best, at least it was while Al Davis was alive. Whether there’s an actual bias towards former Raiders can’t be officially confirmed but there are egregious Hall of Fame omissions that fuel that theory. Flores himself was for a long time, part of those omissions.
Others have so far been denied their day, most notably is wide receiver Cliff Branch. Arguably one of the top five players in Raiders’ history, Branch set the standard for the modern NFL wide receiver. One player that did finally get his day, albeit a bit too late, was quarterback Ken Stabler. Perhaps, the enshrinement of Flores and Charles Woodson signifies a change in the tide when it comes to former Raiders.
Flores is humble as always on his special day…
A true football man, through and through, Flores acknowledged how important his enshrinement meant to him.
“Being here, today, this enshrinement means the world to me. I was always happy in the world of football, and now because of this honor, I’ll be part of it forever and forever.”
Indeed, Flores will, in fact, be a part of not just Raiders history forever but football as a whole. Another reason that Flores’s induction is so important, well, it goes beyond football. It’s a testament to the United States; the story of an immigrant’s son working and rising through football’s ranks to the ultimate pinnacle, its Hall of Fame. It’s the story of ‘us.’
A memory that Flores shared with onlookers in Canton sums up his story best.
‘In Super Bowl XV in New Orleans, the clock was ticking down with one minute and we’re ahead by 17 points. One of my assistants, the late Sam Boghosian, who also was from the Central Valley of California, and his family is here tonight, leaned over and looked at me and said, ‘Not bad for a couple of grape pickers.’ I said, ‘Sam, not bad at all for a couple of grape pickers.’
Not bad at all Mr. Flores, not bad at all.
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*Top Photo: Halle Sembritzki/Your Central Valley