Tip-Off for 10/22/12 (featuring Elle Varner): The silenced legacy of Tom Flores


Tom Flores airs one out in the wide open Raiders attack, a hallmark in the former AFL.

Tom Flores is a groundbreaking NFL figure. In 1960, Flores became the first Hispanic quarterback to start as a member of the Oakland Raiders. Two decades later, Flores led the Raiders to a pair of Super Bowl victories (XV, XVIII) as a head coach, becoming the first minority coach to do so.

Surprisingly, Flores remains only Hall of Fame eligible.

(Associated Press)

Flores and cast-off Jim Plunkett brought Super Bowl titles to Oakland and Los Angeles.

Tom Flores replaced Raiders head coach John Madden in 1979. Flores’ personality unlike Madden’s did not fit the traditional Raider mold. Flores was the quiet general in the midst of madmen — his will to win was the one requirement to lead an Al Davis franchise.

Flores was the backup to Len Dawson when the Kansas City Chiefs won the 1969 AFL-NFL World Championship Game (Super Bowl IV). Flores retired as one of only twenty players to play during the entire existence of the AFL.

In Oakland and Los Angeles, he solidified his legacy. The Raiders entered the playoffs as a wild-card in 1980. Oakland eventually marched into Super Bowl XV against a finesse Philadelphia Eagles team favored and deemed better by experts. The Raiders dominated the Eagles 27-10, and Flores won his first Super Bowl as a head coach.

Three years later in Super Bowl XVIII, Flores and the Raiders faced the high-powered offense of the Washington Redskins. Led by Joe Theismann, bruising tailback John Riggins and a talented receiving corp, the Redskins were the most prolific offense in league history. The Raiders, who were now residents of Los Angeles, shut down the Redskins attack with a dogged defensive effort in a stunning 38-9 victory.

At the forefront of the Raiders Super Bowl victories was former  No.1 overall pick Jim Plunkett. After failed stints in New England and San Francisco, Plunkett was written off by everyone. This qualified the former Heisman Trophy winner for a job with the Silver and Black. Flores, who was given the opportunity to play in the AFL by Al Davis, reached out to Jim Plunkett. Plunkett is of Native American decent. Neither are in the Hall of Fame despite each having two impactful Super Bowl victories.

Flores career record (97-87) is not as gaudy as Bill Parcells and others, but his playoff winning percentage of 73 percent (8-3 record) is second only to Vince Lombardi (minimum 10 games).

Two Super Bowl victories as an underdog cannot be overlooked.

The Lineup:

Collin Klein is leading the Heisman race (CBS Sports).

Lance Armstrong has been stripped of seven Tour De France titles (Yahoo).

Trent Richardson says rib injury is worse than expected (Pro Football Talk).

Thomas Robinson welcomes Dwight Howard to LA (Dime Magazine).

Dodger Stadium is preferred site for NFL team in LA (Black Sports Online).

Dwight Howard sheds a few in Laker debut (In Flex We Trust).

Indiana Fever win WNBA title (SB Nation).

Osi breaks down RG3 (CBS Sports).

Wes Welker after Pats victory (NFL.com).

The New Yorker endorses President Obama (The New Yorker).

Enjoy today folks.

5 Responses to “Tip-Off for 10/22/12 (featuring Elle Varner): The silenced legacy of Tom Flores”

  1. ch555x says:

    I didn’t know he played in the league (just knew him as a coach). Him and Jim Plunkett rarely get any mention, which is silly…:/

  2. Temple3 says:

    Good stuff. Always like a piece on Flores.

    BTW, his coaching record with the Raiders is 83-53 and his winning percentage with them was .610 — higher than Bill Walsh’s .609. Flores went 14-34 with the Seahawks — with Stan Gelbaugh and Ric Mirer.

    Coached the only AFC teams to win a Super Bowl from 1980 to 1997. Only coach to beat Joe Gibbs in a Super Bowl.

    Just one thing about his playing days…he was the Raiders leading passer for 5 of their first 7 seasons and laid the foundation for what would become the NFL’s preeminent offensive team. From 1960 to 1984, the Raiders ranked in the top 10 in scoring for every season, except one. Flores was a big part of that. None of the league’s more celebrated offenses (SF, GB, MIA, SD, NE) can match that legacy of excellence.

  3. Ron Glover says:

    When I was looking for a photo I saw that you used the Raiders photo for your piece last year. Good stuff.

  4. Temple3 says:

    Thanks for keeping the flame alive. Gotta keep telling those stories — right!?!?

    Who knows…maybe someone on one of those committees will get with the program and break down his career the way it should be broken down.

  5. Ron Glover says:

    Yessir. Hopefully these guys wise up and start looking past the game film.