Raiders fans (Oakland residents in particular) have been dealing with misery for several years now. The team last made the playoffs in 2002, and since then, they’ve lost all their seasons. Despite recent improvements and Derek Carr’s promising performance, things are not going well. Add the uncertainty of the franchise’s relocation, and the Raider Nation faces a dark future.
But there are few franchises with such glorious history. A big part of that history was made under the guidance of Tom Flores, the first Latino Head Coach of an NFL team. Ron Rivera will be the second when the Panthers take on the Broncos in just a few days.
Despite being the first Latino to start as a quarterback, Flores spent most of his playing career as a backup. He played in the NFL for 11 seasons. But we’ll never forget his accomplishments as Head Coach of the Raiders. It was under his wing that the Raiders won Super Bowls XV and XVIII in 1981 and 1984, along with fellow Chicano Jim Plunkett as QB.
In fact, a few years earlier, the Raiders won Super Bowl XI (1977) with the legendary John Madden calling the shots from the sidelines, with Tom Flores as assistant coach. Along with football legend Mike Ditka, Flores is the only person to win the Super Bowl as player, assistant coach, and head coach.
Flores, whose parents were from Chihuahua, Mexico, grew up working in the fields of the Central California Valley. He’s now 78 and waiting for a well-deserved call to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has been nominated seven times, but never made it to the semi-final deliberations. Many think that the voting system is flawed and that Flores’ contribution to the Latino community should be recognized by the Hall of Fame committee. He’s one of three coaches with at least two Super Bowl wins not already recognized by the institution. Flores has said, “I don’t get too excited about it anymore.” Having Flores in the HOF would be a smart move on behalf of the League, but more importantly, it would be an act of justice in honor of such an important historical figure.
But even without the award, Flores has opened doors for Latinos in the NFL, especially for – you guessed it – Ron Rivera.