Tom Flores, who trained the Raiders for championships in Oakland and Los Angeles, made it to Canton on Saturday night.
Flores was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coaching candidate at the NFL Honors event on his third attempt and received the mandatory 80 percent of the 48 selectors with a yes or no.
Also included was defender Charles Woodson, first eligible after an illustrious 18 year career that began and ended with the Raiders and spanned seven years with the Green Bay Packers.
« I think I’ll have a drink, » said Flores when he was contacted by phone. « I’m just excited. It was crazy when everyone called who wanted to know first. I’ve been trying to keep this thing quiet and it’s pretty difficult to do. It’s no longer quiet, I know that It’s exciting and part of the journey – and it’s the best part of the journey. «
The Flores election was first announced by ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. Flores said he knew he was elected for a week. Hall of Fame selectors, as well as those elected, are requested to keep news confidential until the day it is announced.
In the past two years, Flores missed out on the expanded Centennial Class in favor of Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher last year and two years ago when the format was different and he competed against former NFL players.
Flores joins John Madden, who was inducted as a Raiders trainer in 2006. Al Davis, who was the head coach, general manager, and eventual owner of the Raiders, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992.
This year’s Hall of Fame class is slated to launch in Canton, Ohio in the first week of August.
Flores was the head coach of the Raiders for nine years, named by Al Davis to succeed John Madden after he retired after the 1978 season. He was the first Latino head coach to win a Super Bowl.
The Raiders won the Super Bowl twice under Flores after the 1980 and 1983 seasons. The first came when the Raiders became the first wildcard team to win a championship 27-10 against the Philadelphia Eagles at Super Bowl XV in New Orleans.
It wasn’t a normal season as the off-season Raiders traded popular starting quarterback Ken Stabler and Jim Plunkett came off the bench to replace an injured Dan Pastorini who came in for Stabler.
There was also the cloud of an imminent move to Los Angeles with owner Al Davis involved in a lawsuit against Pete Rozelle and the NFL. The Raiders moved to Los Angeles after the 1981 season.
« I’m not sure if it will work with anyone else, » said former Raiders linebacker Matt Millen of Flores’ leadership in 2019. « During that time, you could have some strong personalities in store, but it had to work from above. » And Tom was the type of guy who didn’t feel like he was in control all the time. »
« You are in Las Angeles. You are in Tinsel Town, » said Flores. « Suddenly you have people doing things that would never be done in Oakland. You have to live with that. »
In 1983 the Tampa Raiders blew Washington 38-9, a team that came into play with the most points in NFL history.
The Raiders’ postseason run was one of the most compelling in NFL history, beating Pittsburgh (38-10) and Seattle (30-14) before Washington was destroyed.
As a former Raiders quarterback when Davis was head coach, the Fresno native Flores also received a Super Bowl ring as a Raiders assistant after the 1976 season under Madden and after 1969 as a player, the Len Dawson for Kansas City Chiefs backed season.
After retiring from the Raiders, he was persuaded to coach again by the Seattle Seahawks in 1992, but was 14-34 in three seasons – a career move that likely slowed his rise to the Hall of Fame.
Overall, Flores was 97-87 in his career overall, including 8-3 in the playoffs. His regular season record with the Raiders as head coach was 84-53 in the regular season.
From 1987 to 2018, Flores was a radio analyst for Raiders Games on the radio with play-by-play man Greg Papa.
The 44-year-old Woodson was number 4 in the 1998 NFL draft from Raiders’ owner Al Davis after quarterbacks Peyton Manning (Colts), Ryan Leaf (Chargers) and defensive end Andre Wadsworth (Cardinals).
He came from Michigan as a Heisman Trophy winner – the first defensive player to be so honored. As an instant starter and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Woodson, along with the takeover of Eric Allen as the second cornerback, helped the Raiders to go from 4-12 to 8-8 in the first year under coach Jon Gruden.
In the view of the Hall of Fame nominees, Woodson’s résumé is accusatory and includes the following:
– A total of 65 interceptions, which is fifth all-time and second since the merger with Rod Woodson.
– At 13 against Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the first time in defensive touchdowns of all time.
– Selected four times as a first-team all-pro and elected nine times to the Pro Bowl.
– Only players in NFL history with 20 or more bags (he had 20) and 50 or more interceptions.
Woodson, whose ball stripping skills were among the best in the NFL, also made 33 mistakes in his NFL career and was a sudden and assured attacker.
During his first tenure with the Raiders from 1998 to 2005, Woodson made four Pro Bowls but battled injuries and relied on his athletic prowess without apology. He dozed off during the film sessions and talked about playing with a « blank board » to rely on that ability rather than gathering as much information as possible in advance.
Twice with Davis’ franchise tag, Woodson hit the open market after the 2009 season, having played 19 games in two seasons for which he received a little over $ 19 million. It found no buyers, and Gruden and Tampa Bay never became interested.
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Although Woodson didn’t feel like playing at Green Bay, he eventually agreed to a seven-year deal for $ 52 million and it turned out to be going from a very good player to an undisputed great.
Woodson was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and was Super Bowl champion the following year despite breaking a collarbone before halftime. After a passionate half-time speech in which he admonished his teammates, Woodson cheered his teammates in the second half.
After a 2012 season in which he played seven games due to injury, Woodson was released, took the free hand as a 37-year-old security officer and returned to the Raiders and General Manager Reggie McKenzie, where he served as HR manager Packer.
Woodson has played his last three seasons with the Raiders, making all 48 starts. He played a total of 254 games – 154 with the Raiders and 100 with the Packers – and built his case for the Hall of Fame largely on what was accomplished in Green Bay.
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