Tom Flores is no longer a full-time broadcaster, but his voice will always be part of the Raider Nation.
The two-time Super Bowl-winning coach and University of the Pacific graduate is looking forward to another football season, but this one will be different. He and Greg Papa were recently released as part of the Raiders broadcast team, being replaced with Brent Musburger and former Raider Lincoln Kennedy.
The one constant, unfortunately, is his continued omission from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which at this point can be called a snub.
Flores, 81, spoke about these subjects and his time in Stockton during an interview on The Record’s 209 Overtime podcast. He was as gracious as ever, and had hoped to stay on the job until the franchise's move to Las Vegas, which won’t happen for at least two seasons.
“I knew at some point it had to end. Twenty-one years is a long time to do anything,” Flores said about his stint as the Raiders’ color commentator. “I was hoping I could make it to at least one year in Vegas. I thought that would be a lot of fun and a hoot.”
Flores will still do some projects for the team, and he was the subject of plenty of discussions during the Raiders preseason broadcasts as announcers lamented how another year had passed and he’s not in the Hall of Fame.
Flores admits the situation bothers him. He looks at the calendar and wonders if it will happen in his lifetime, if at all.
“I’m not a kid anymore, and I don’t have that many days. How many times do I have to be disappointed?” asked Flores. “I’d like to feel I’ve earned the right.”
Many people agree with him, and the problem is clear. Flores’ Hall of Fame resume is overshadowed by the looming legend of Al Davis.
The case for Tom Flores is easy to make.
He coached the Raiders for nine seasons, winning Super Bowl XV (1980) and XVIII (1983). That gives him as many championships as hall of famers such as Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Tom Landry and Bill Parcells. Flores has a total of four Super Bowl rings, and joins Mike Ditka as the only people to earn one as a player, head coach and assistant coach.
Flores' record is slightly tarnished by three mediocre-to-bad seasons with the Seattle Seahawks after his Raiders stint, but his overall coaching mark is 97-87 (.527).
Flores’ time with the Raiders also holds some social significance. He was the first Latino hired as a head coach in the NFL, and the first minority head coach to win the Super Bowl.
This sounds like a guy who should have a bronze bust in Canton, Ohio. But there seems to be two issues — Al Davis and Flores’ mellow demeanor.
He knows there was a perception that Davis coached the Raiders from the owner’s booth.
“(There are) those that listen to some of the hearsay that Al ran everything and did the game plan and called the plays on the field. But he didn’t,” Flores said. “He would offer input during the week. He never called a play during a game.”
The blustery John Madden managed to break away from Davis’ aura. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2006 as a senior candidate, which is how Flores would have to be voted in. Jon Gruden, “Chucky” himself, battled with Davis as coach, won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay and almost certainly will go in if he gets another in his second stint with the Raiders.
Flores has more Super Bowl rings than both of them, and he has represented his sports honorably as a player, coach, general manager and broadcaster.
When the Hall of Fame committee huddles at next year’s Super Bowl to consider candidates, they should finally call his number.
Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8282 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@ScottLinesburgh.