In today’s fourth installment of this week’s “5 Games’’ podcast, Tom Flores recalls the pressures of being the first minority head coach to lead a team to the Super Bowl.
Flores had plenty to worry about when he replaced future Hall of Fame coach John Madden a year earlier and that only increased when rumors began to swirl that he might not survive his second season running the Raiders. In the end he ran them all the way to victory in Super Bowl XV but it was not an easy journey.
Did Flores, the first Latino to become a starting quarterback in pro football and the first minority of any sport to coach a team to the Super Bowl, feel the weight of those trailblazing accomplishments? Perhaps but he felt a greater weight than that?
“I felt the weight of Al Davis on my back,’’ Flores joked. “Although I (also) knew (the weight of history) existed to some extent…Early in the year there were rumors I’d be fired.’’
Flores’ reaction to it all led to a funny moment in his first press conference of Super Bowl week.
“The one feeling that I remember quite well was that I had to introduce myself in front of the press,’’ Flores recalls. “There was never any mention of me. It was all (Eagles’ head coach Dick) Vermeil vs. Al Davis and the Raiders.’’
The game was not only a historic moment for Flores and all Latinos but also for the country. Five days before the game Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days were released, making the game a national celebration of more than football. Flores recalls the team bus pulling up to the Superdome in New Orleans the day of the game and seeing something that reminded them all of how big this moment had become.
“When we pulled up the day of the game and saw this huge yellow ribbon (wrapped around the stadium as a symbol of the hostages’ return) it was one of those WOW moments,’’ Flores says.
Flores and the Raiders would have many such moments all week in New Orleans. So would the Eagles but they were of a far different kind. To hear the inside story of that wild week and how Flores prepared the Raiders for victory click the link below to go to the free podcast.