So, to quote the late Al Davis: “Just win, Baby.” Davis was once quoted as saying that Tom “is not just a great coach in the league,” but that Tom “is among the greatest ever.” We all hope that the NFL finally recognizes that as well and he enters in Class of 2021 with the Cowboys own Drew Pearson the original 88!

Article below first appeared on Our Voice/Nuestra Voz in 2013

Story By A. Govea



Tom started his coaching career in Buffalo under Sid Gillman. But he was soon back with Oakland, where he would reach his crowning achievement. In 1979, Tom was named the Raiders head coach when John Madden retired. The promotion made Tom the first minority head coach in the NFL, in both divisions. Tom Flores went on to lead the Raiders to two NFL championships, against the Eagles in Super Bowl XV and against the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.


Photo Credit : The Official Tom Flores Fan Club

Photo Credit : The Official Tom Flores Fan Club

What I find even more admirable were Tom’s achievements with the Raiders, the team owned by Al Davis, who was known for his impatience and constant meddling in team management, coaching and recruiting. Many sports history buffs call Davis the original Jerry Jones-TIMES- TWO. I asked Tom about his relationship with Al Davis. “Sure, he was tough to work for at times,” Tom said, having worked for Davis as a player/assistant coach and as a head coach. “He was tough, but for the most part, he was fair, but at times . . . unreasonable.” How did Davis and Jerry Jones compare? “When Jerry bought the Cowboys, he . . . sought out Al for advice,” Tom said. “This led to them becoming friends.” Tom said it is possible that Jerry did take to heart the early counsel of Al Davis. “But again,” Tom said, “If you win, nobody will second-guess you.” For Davis and anyone in the business then and now, Tom said, “the bottom line . . . is winning. If you win, you can do no wrong. If not, you will be in the hot seat.” So, to quote the late Al Davis: “Just win, Baby.” Davis was once quoted as saying that Tom “is not just a great coach in the league,” but that Tom “is among the greatest ever.” And as the business proved, Tom knew, a coach is only “as good” as his record at any given moment. Davis removed Tom from the head coaching job and moved him upstairs in Oakland management and later fired Tom from that job and all Oakland roles. It proved to be another opportunity. Tom was named general manager of the Seattle Seahawks and later, in 1992, became the team’s head coach. After three disappointing seasons, Tom was let go. Overall, Tom compiled a coaching record of 97 wins, 87 losses and no ties, with a playoff tally of 8 wins and 3 losses – and of course, the two Super Bowl victories. Tom recalled his Super Bowl quarterback, Jim Plunkett. “He was an incredibly talented quarterback and the first and only Latino to win the Heisman Trophy. He is of Mexican descent on his mom’s side.” Does Tom foresee another Hispanic quarterback and head coach combo in the NFL? “There will likely never be again,” he said. Tom never regained the magic of his Oakland days. The Football Gods giveth and taketh away.


Tom Flores has been recognized on many occasions for his philanthropy, including being presented the Roberto Clemente Award by National Council of La Raza, being named to the California Sports Hall of Fame, and having the football stadium

at his alma mater, Sanger High School, named for him. When considering Thomas Raymond Flores’s whole body of work, including being a charter member of the old AFL, I and many other pro football fans and many experts argue that “The Ice Man” deserves to be in the NFL Hall of Fame. I asked him about the induction possibility. “It, of course, would be an honor,” Tom said. “My last chance will not come until four or five years down the road, as an old-timer pick.” Regardless, Tom Flores is a prime source of pride for the Latino community. For now, he is still involved in football, as color commentator for the Oakland Raiders Network. He plays golf; one course is a short walk from his home. His advice for anyone with a dream is: “Have passion for your chosen career and be prepared for setbacks. They will only make you stronger and smarter.” Tom is married; he and his wife Barbara have three grown children, twin boys, and a daughter, and five grandchildren.


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