Tom Flores isn’t on the ballot for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018.
Maybe he should be.
In our Talk of Fame Network poll last week, we asked our listeners and readers who will be the next coach enshrined in Canton? There are two coaches included among the 27 semifinalists for the Class of 2018, Don Coryell and Jimmy Johnson, but the voters skipped right over their candidacies and gave Flores the overwhelming nod.
Flores, who coached the Raiders to two Super Bowl championships, received 91 percent of the vote to easily outdistance Coryell, who received four percent support, and Johnson at two percent.
Predictably, the three Talk of Fame Network hosts were split with their votes. Ron Borges and Clark Judge cast their ballots for Flores, and Rick Gosselin for Jimmy Johnson.
Flores coached 12 seasons with the Raiders and Seahawks, winning two Super Bowls with the Raiders. He won 52.7 percent of his career starts (97-87-0), taking his teams to the playoffs five times and winning two division titles. He’s the first person in NFL history to win Super Bowl rings as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
“Tom Flores was not only a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach,” Borges said, “but the first Hispanic NFL head coach and the first Hispanic starting quarterback in NFL history. That qualifies him as both a coach and a NFL historical icon.”
Judge also cited the historic context.
“In addition to his two Super Bowls, Flores was a social pioneer, the first Hispanic-American coach to win an NFL championship,” Judge said. “That should count for something.”
Johnson also won two Super Bowls with the Cowboys and built the NFL’s team of the decade with shrewd drafting and trading. Johnson engineered that deals that sent Herschel Walker away for six premium draft picks and also brought Hall of Fame pass rusher Charles Haley from San Francisco, effectively shifting the NFL’s balance of power away from the West Coast. Johnson also drafted Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.
“Jimmy built champions in college at Miami,” Gosselin said, “and built champions in the NFL at Dallas. He hand-picked the talent and then maximized it from the sideline as head coach.”
Coryell coached 14 seasons with the Cardinals and Chargers, taking San Diego to two AFC title games. He won 57.2 percent of his career starts (111-83-1), taking his teams to the playoffs six times and winning five division titles. He’s the father of the Air Coryell offense that led the NFL in passing five consecutive seasons (1979-83) at San Diego.